President Reagan symbolically wished the armed forces a Merry Christmas yesterday with White House telephone calls to five servicemen on duty at U.S. outposts throughout the world.

Reagan took time off from a day of rest in his residence to call servicemen on duty in Korea, Japan, Turkey, Okinawa and aboard a ship in the Indian Ocean.

"The president wished them all Merry Christmas," said Marlin M. Fitzwater, a deputy White House press secretary. "He talked about their duties, their hometowns and when they expect to go home."

The Reagans plan to spend a quiet Christmas in the White House after a Christmas Eve dinner at the home of Charles Z. Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency, and his wife, Jane. The president will fly Thursday to California where he will spend two days in Los Angeles and then travel to Palm Springs.

He is scheduled to return to Washington Jan. 2 after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in Los Angeles.

The servicemen were:

* Army Spec. 4 Nicholas A. Thomas of Celina, Ohio. When the call came, he was on guard duty at 2 a.m. Christmas at Guard Post Collier in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.

* Coast Guard Fireman Curtis L. Currin of Tulsa, Okla., on duty at Long Range Radio Navigation System Center at Hokkaido, Japan.

Senior Airman Kevin Arneson of Milton, Wis., on guard duty at an ammunition dump at Pirncilk Air Station in Turkey.

* Marine Lance Cpl. Edwin W. Bartlett of Guilford, Conn., at his headquarters company in Okinawa.

* Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class Frank D. Kelley of Clearwater, Fla., aboard the Guided Missile Frigate USS Estocin in the Indian Ocean.