How to Say Happy Birthday in Several Languages

Here are some ways to say happy birthday in different languages.


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    Cheer '生日快乐' in Chinese, pronounced "shing ri kuai le". A more polite version is 祝你生日快乐, pronounced "zhu ni shengri kuaile" and meaning 'Happy birthday to you'.
    • Traditionally Chinese people celebrate a child turning one month old with a red egg and ginger party. Birthdays are not celebrated again until an individual turns 60.
    • The birthday boy or girl often slurps one long longevity noodle for luck and longevity.
    • A red envelope stuffed with money is a traditional present. Why not buy a red purse and add a small amount of money instead as a modern take on this age-old tradition?
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    Declare 'Gelukkige verjaardag' in Dutch. This is pronounced 'Gue-lu-ki-che ver-yaar-dach'.
    • 'Hartelijk gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag' - Congratulations on your birthday- is a friendly greeting.
    • 'Hartelijk gefeliciteerd met uw verjaardag' - Congratulations on your birthday- is a more polite version, appropriate for an acquaintance or your elder.
    • Congratulate other family members on the birthday person's birthday. That is, say 'Congratulations on his birthday' to Fred's mother.
    • If it is your birthday you are expected to provide cake for all members of your work department. If it is your child's big day, provide an edible treat for all your child's classmates. Don't necessarily expect gifts in return.
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    Wish a French friend a "joyeux anniversaire", pronounced joy-eu a-ni-ver-ser
    • French children were traditionally named for the saint on whose feast day they were born. This tradition is now less common and another saint's name may be picked instead. In such case, people often celebrate their birthday and then celebrate the feast day of the saint whose name they share as a second birthday.
    • See How to Say Happy Birthday in French.
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    Affirm "Gelokkich jierdei" in Friesian, pronounced 'Gue-lok-kich Year-day'.
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    Say 'χαρούμενα γενέθλια' in Greek, pronounced 'haroumena genethlia'.
    • Pronounce 'χρόνια πολλά' as hronia polla, which means a wish to live many years. This is very popularly used by native Greek speakers.
    • Wish that somebody might live a thousand years by declaring hiliohroni (χιλιόχρονη) for a girl or hiliohronos (χιλιόχρονος) for a guy.
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    Declare 'Gratulerer med dagen (formal) in Norwegian. This is a polite way to wish someone a happy birthday and is the form most popular with young people. It literally means 'Congratulations with the day'.
    • At a party or in class, Norwegian children and adults sing 'Hurra for deg', the equivalent of 'Happy Birthday', whilst clapping hands as the birthday boy or girl dances in a circle with a friend of their choice. The English translation goes as follows:"Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!/ Yes, we congratulate you!/ We all stand around you in a ring,/ And look, now we’ll march,/ Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around,/ Dance for you and hop and skip and jump!/ Wishing you from the heart all good things!/ And tell me, what more could you want? Congratulations!"
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    Cheer ' 誕生日おめでとう' in Japanese, pronounced ' Tanjō-bi omedetō' and meaning 'Congratulations on your birthday'.
    • Japanese children once celebrated their birthdays on January 1st and not on their birthday, a custom which has mostly died out.
    • In Japan there is a Shinto Festival called Shichi-Go-San, which roughly means "seven-five-three". All three year old children, as well as five year old boys and seven year old girls, are taken to the temple and given special sweets by the priest. The parents are expected to express joy that their child has reached this important milestone and to pray to health and happiness.
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    Declare "с днем рождения" in Russian, pronounced 's dnyom rozhdeniya'. This is the most common way to wish someone a happy birthday and is appropriate for formal and informal settings.
    • 'S dnyukhoy' is a colloquial way of wishing someone a happy birthday, used by young people and close friends.
    • 'Pozdravlyayu s dnyom rozhdeniya' is a more advanced phrase, which means 'Congratulations on your birthday'.
    • 'S dnyom varenya' is a jokey way to wish someone many happy returns but is often regarded as childish so use as appropriate!
    • Never give someone from Russia their birthday wishes before their birthday (although after is okay which is good news if you're forgetful!). Celebrating one's birthday before the actual day is frowned upon by superstition as bad luck.
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    Shout 'feliz cumpleaños' in Spanish, pronounced 'fel-eez coom-play-an-yos'.
    • A tradition is that the one who is celebrating their birthday eats the first bite of the cake - without using any utensils!
    • In many Spanish-speaking cultures, a very important birthday is the 'Quinceañera' which is celebrated when a girl turns fifteen. It is a rite of passage which marks the transition from girlhood to womanhood. The girl wears a lavish dress and high heeled shoes which her father may place on her feet. Flat shoes symbolise girlhood and so the high heels represent her becoming a woman. She gives a porcelain doll to a younger girl to symbolise leaving childish things behind and she is waited on by fourteen attendants to represent the past fourteen years of her life. The day consists of a church ceremony, during which the girl is blessed, and then a dinner or ball, at which she has the first dance with her father.
    • See How to Say Happy Birthday in Spanish.
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    Gush 'Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag' in German.
    • Celebrate a milestone by saying 'Ich gratuliere Ihnen zu Ihrem 40' meaning 'Congratulations on your 40th birthday' - the figure can be changed as appropriate!
    • Well-wishes, cards and presents are not given until a German's birthday - period! Celebrating your birthday early is seen very bad luck indeed. In some parts of Austria the eve of one's birthday is the day of celebration.
    • Watch out for milestone birthdays in Germany! When one turns 16, expect flour to be poured on one's head. At 18 eggs will be cracked over the birthday boy or girl's head. Unmarried men or women turning 25 will find garlands, made of socks for men or cigarette packets for women, hung around their property and leading to the party.
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    Exclaim 'Lá breithe sona duit' in Irish, pronounced 'law breh-ha sun-a ditch'.
    • Wish twins and triplets a happy birthday with 'Lá breithe sona daoibh', pronounced 'law breh-ha sun-a gee-eh-vh'. The 'daoibh at the end is the only difference to the usual statement and it means to you (plural).
    • 'Birthday bumps' is an Irish tradition where a child is held upside down down and gently bumped off the floor, once for each year and another once for luck.
    • At 21 the young person is given a key to the family property or a cardboard substitute, symbolising their new-found maturity and adulthood and offering the freedom to come and go independently! The presentation is accompanied by a song: "I'm twenty-one today!/ Twenty-one today!/ I've got the key of the door!/ Never been twenty-one before!/ And father says I can do what I like!/ So shout Hip-hip-hooray!/ I'm a jolly good fellow,/ Twenty-one today."


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Categories: Multiple Language Guides