Jan. 1st, 2015

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Akemashite omeditou gozaimasu! Otherwise known as Happy New Year, except...

That leaves a lot of the juice out. Let's look at the words. First of all, akemashite actually means, roughly, the light has come, or it is lighting up. Punnily enough, it also sounds exactly like the verb for opening, unlocking, unwrapping. Omeditou gozaimasu is a very polite congratulations, which you also use when someone has a baby, or for graduations, weddings, those kind of life achievements. So it's congratulations, the light has come, or if you prefer the pun, the new year is opening.

And just at midnight on New Year's Eve, people everywhere in Japan turn to their family or friends and exchange this cheerful greeting. For the next few days, when you talk to someone on the phone or meet them somewhere, if you haven't congratulated them on being enlightened by (or maybe started) a new year, you use this greeting.

Often followed immediately with a plea. Kotoshi mo douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. Which is a polite way to ask them to treat you with favor this year, too.

Anyway, akemashite omeditou gozaimasu. As I said, I used to think it meant the new year has opened, but it really is the light has come. Enlightened or opened, it's a good sentiment to start the new year with, I think. That new year, glistening and shining with possibilities lies in front of us. What are you going to do with it?

Something to think about. And then do something about.


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