1

「あける」、 regardless of the kanji, is transitive. Therefore:

While the object is「新年」、 what is the subject of「あけましておめでとう」?
Regardless of what the subject is, is 「あけましておめでとうございます」 a metaphor?

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    明ける〔 下一〕(1)夜が終わって朝になる。(2) 古い年・月が終わって、新しい年・月になる。 (3)ある時間が終わる。◆「開ける」と同語源。
    – blutorange
    Jan 14 '15 at 1:04
  • @blutorange I stand corrected with regard to assuming it was transitive. I sure thought there were rules for easily identifying transitive / intransitive verbs.
    – user312440
    Jan 14 '15 at 2:01
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    This is a greeting, not a regular sentence. It looks pretty weird trying to find a subject or object in it. Jan 14 '15 at 7:44
  • I had the same feeling as @l'électeur, but if we consider this as a question of etymology, I think it could make sense to ask. (In other words, where does this phrase come from?)
    – user1478
    Jan 14 '15 at 14:55
6

あける (明ける in kanji) here is an intransitive verb which basically means to finish, to change to a new state, etc. According to 大辞林:

あける【明ける・空ける・開ける】
(自動詞)
①夜が終わって朝になり,あたりが明るくなる。 《明》 ↔ 暮れる 「夜(よ)が-・ける」
②時間が経過して次の新しい年・日や季節が始まる。主語を示すことはない。 《明》 ↔ 暮れる 「 - ・けて八月二日,いよいよ頂上をめざす日だ」
③ある特別の状態の期間が終わって,普通の状態に戻る。おわる。 《明》 「長かった梅雨(つゆ)がようやく-・けた」 「喪(も)が-・ける」 「年季が-・ける」

So the implied subject of あける in あけましておめでとう is 年 or 新年.

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    That is so surprising to me. Not only the meaning, but also the transitivity of a verb depends on the kanji. Had I done the research that I should have done before posting, I would have discovered this. Thanks for investing your time to help me.
    – user312440
    Jan 14 '15 at 2:14
  • Come to think of it, 明ける sometimes means 終わる but sometimes means 始まる...
    – naruto
    Jan 14 '15 at 7:55
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    @user312440 I think you're thinking of that backwards. There's a word pronounced あける that's intransitive. When this is the case and with the right meaning, it gets written out as 明ける but I could be wrong on this
    – virmaior
    Jan 14 '15 at 8:26

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