Ah, Christmas time. That special time of year when you come together with your family, eat way too much food, and open lots of presents and gifts. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s also a holiday that’s celebrated in Japan. So what is Merry Christmas in Japanese?
That will be covered in the first part of today’s blog. After that I wanted to talk a little bit about the differences between Christmas in Japan and in the West. It’s the same holiday, but it’s not treated exactly the same way between our two cultures.
Finally, I thought that it would be fun to talk about “Christmas food” in Japan because they eat some stuff during this time of year that will make scratch your head in confusion and say “really?!”.
How To Say Merry Christmas In Japanese
Since Christmas is a holiday that was only recently introduced to Japan within the last century, they don’t have any native phrases that they use to exchange with one another.
Instead, they have taken the English phrase “Merry Christmas” and transferred it directly into Japanese with the help of katakana.
- merī kurisumasu!
- Merry Christmas!
And since the Japanese people love to abbreviate words and phrases into shorter version for ease of use, there is also one that can be used for this phrase.
- meri kuri
- Merry Christmas
Now you know how to say this phrase in Japanese, but there are actually a few others that you might want to learn so that you can say additional things around this time of year.
They will also be useful since other people might say them to you, and you’ll want to be able to understand them.
The first one is simply used to wish the other person a good winter break.
- ii fuyu yasumi o!
- Have a good winter break!
The next one can be used as an alternative to wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” if you’re not really into that holiday.
Or it can be used in addition to it since there are multiple holidays around the end of the year and you may just want to say one phrase that can catch all of them at once.
- ii kyuuka o!
- Happy holidays!
This last phrase that I wanted to share is pretty much like the last one, focusing on the holidays in general, but it’s structured a little bit differently and is just telling people to enjoy their time off.
- kyuuka o tanoshin de ne!
- Enjoy the holidays!
Not An Official Holiday
Christmas is not an official national holiday in Japan. That means you still have to work on December 25th!
This is due to several factors, such as its recent introduction to the culture and the fact that the religion associated with Christmas (Christianity) is an extreme minority in Japan.
The last statistic I read put it at less than 2% of the population. The dominant religions in Japan are Shintoism and Buddhism. Although, it’s not quite the Buddhism of India where it originated, but rather a Japanese version of it.
That being said, people tend to celebrate Christmas Eve as a romantic event to spend with one’s girlfriend or boyfriend.
Walking through the brightly lit and decorated streets, giving each other a special present, it almost sounds like Valentine’s Day!
You’ll see familiar things in Japan such as Christmas tress, Christmas lights, and Santa Claus.
By the way, the Japanese word for Santa Claus is サンタクロース (santa kurōsu). But just like in English, they sometimes shorten it to just Santa, but they usually add on the common san-honorific to it: サンタさん (santa san).
Something that is NOT familiar is that tons of people eat Kentucky Fried Chicken as a Christmas tradition!
KFC Is Super Popular!
[Image Credit: Mr.ちゅらさん]
Apparently back in the 70s KFC ran a marketing campaign in Japan that was incredibly successful and now it’s common for people in Japan to eat some fried chicken from The Colonel during this holiday.
This is quite a bit different from things here in America and when I first heard about this, my jaw hit the floor!
Although I do have to admit I’m curious to try it out for myself sometime and see if it’s a good as everybody says it is. Put this one as a “must do” when visiting Japan.
What’s really funny is when you see The Colonel dressed up in Santa’s red and white outfit. It actually looks pretty good since he has that same jolly appearance with the white hair and beard!
So if you love Christmas and KFC, be sure to try them together if you’re ever in Japan during that time.
Everyone Loves Christmas Cake
The other food that I wanted to talk about is Christmas Cake, or as the Japanese say クリスマスケーキ (kurisumasu kēki).
This cake is usually a sponge cake (yum!) that it covered in white whipped cream and filled with juicy red strawberries.
If you’ve ever played around with the emoji’s in your phone, you’ve probably come across this exact cake!
I believe that we call it “shortcake” in English. Here’s a picture of one now:
[Image Credit: naotakem]
I’m not gonna’ lie, that cake looks super delicious!
I definitely eat way to many sweets during Christmas and that’s probably why I tend to have weight loss as one of my resolutions during the New Year.
Presents For Christmas
Do you like to get presents for Christmas? It’s nice when someone buys something specifically for you and it’s something you’ve been wanting for a while.
It’s also a lot of fun to buy presents for others and enjoy the look of happiness on their face when they open it.
There’s also those times when you buy yourself a nice Christmas present!
If you’re looking for a good gift to get yourself, and you want to improve your Japanese, then check out the best online courses and see if there’s one that’s right for you.
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