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In some countries, some people avoid using "Merry Christmas" and instead say Happy Holidays:

Thought by some to be a politically correct alternative to Merry Christmas and/or Happy New Year when greeting people in public places due to concern over those who might not celebrate Christmas.

(I'm not sure who'd be offended by Happy New Year - people who don't use a Gregorian calendar?)

Is it safe to use メリークリスマス? If not, are there "politically correct" alternatives?

Searching jisho.org for season's did get some results literally translating as season's greetings, but I expect phrases written in kanji aren't likely to be politically correct euphemisms for "Merry Christmas".

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@Closevoters: bah hambug! –  Andrew Grimm Dec 27 '12 at 3:10
    
Is it safe to use メリークリスマス?>>> 大丈夫~~ I say メリークリスマス even to お坊さん/お寺の息子さん^^ They never get offended. Some guys I know at college, whose fathers are お坊さん and families live in お寺, told me they eat クリスマスケーキ on Dec 24/25, and サンタ gave them presents when they were little.^^ (I asked them if they celebrate Christmas at home(=お寺), just because I was curious! We actually laughed when we heard that...) Well, of course some お寺の息子's said they'd never had クリスマスケーキ or プレゼント at home... Nevertheless I said to them メリークリスマス and they never got offended! ^^ –  Chocolate Dec 27 '12 at 17:06
    
(bah hambugってどういう意味?) –  Chocolate Dec 27 '12 at 17:28
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"bah humbug" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humbug In modern usage, the word is most associated with Ebenezer Scrooge, a character created by Charles Dickens. His famous reference to Christmas, "Bah! Humbug!", declaring Christmas to be a fraud, is commonly used in stage and television versions of A Christmas Carol and also appeared frequently in the original book. (we say this as a joke when we want to express displeasure during christmas time) –  yadokari Dec 27 '12 at 18:01
    
@yadokari san ありがとう~ (知らんかった・・クリスマスキャロルを原書で読んでないのがアカンかったwww) –  Chocolate Dec 27 '12 at 18:08
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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I believe most Japanese think of Christmas as a secular, commercial holiday (gift giving, christmas decorations, etc) rather than a religious celebration of the birth of Christ, so I would think that most would not even think to be offended. It might be out of place to say at a religious (Shinto or Buddhist) shrine or celebration, but I would think this would be obvious. The only reason it became politically correct to say Happy Holidays in the U.S., for instance, is due to the increased presence of religious minorities or atheists in what had been a firmly majority Christian nation. As Japan is one of the most secular nations on earth (with a Christian population of less than 2% of the general populace), I would think this consideration to be mostly irrelevant.

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Overall agreed, but you seem to be a little confused on the meaning of 'secular'. Having a small percentage of Christians does not make your nation secular. Having a strong separation of religious powers and government/laws, as Japan mostly does (if you don't look too long in the direction of the New Komeito), despite over 90% of its population declaring itself religious, does make it a secular nation. –  Dave Dec 27 '12 at 1:31
    
Well, I did not say that Japan was a secular nation because it was not Christian (I think the "with" makes that clear). As per the wiki page on religion in Japan: "About 70% of Japanese profess no religious membership,[7][8] according to Johnstone (1993:323), 84% of the Japanese claim no personal religion." The wiki page cites numerous sources. Out of curiosity, where is your 90% number from? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_japan –  yadokari Dec 27 '12 at 1:49
    
The 2000 survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun found that 76.6% of Japanese do not believe in a specific religion.[26] The number increased to 72% by 2005, with only 25% believing in religion and 20% practicing faith.[28] According to Steve Heine in 2011, less than 15% of Japanese believe in God.[29] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_japan) –  yadokari Dec 27 '12 at 1:57
    
Agreed. If it's a katakana word, you can be pretty sure that Japanese people have only a tenuous conception of the phrase's political overhead as it is in the States. It's entrenched Gairaigo, I don't live in Japan, but I'm guessing its usage, even in the media, is almost entirely devoid of sincere religious pretext. Although I don't think religious demography in Japan explains why it may or may not be politically correct. –  taylor Dec 27 '12 at 20:24
    
@yadokari: I sense a lot of confusion (in that article and your approach) about what "religion" and "being a believer" entail... In Japan's case, obviously "believing in God" is an entirely unrelated concept. Accepting that Shintoism and Buddhism are religions, the quasi-totality of Japanese do follow rites tied to either one, at least occasionally (be it for wedding, funeral or new year celebrations). That makes them "religious" (if not in the way you would personally expect or define). –  Dave Dec 29 '12 at 5:15
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