Learning the Birthday Song in German

Many Germans sing 'Happy Birthday' in English

Birthday Candles
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The good news about singing "Happy Birthday" in Germany is that it is not hard at all. The reason is the bad news: The English version of "Happy Birthday" is commonly sung at German parties. Nevertheless, on occasion, you will hear it sung in German.

There are a few main birthday songs in German. One common song is sung to the same tune as the English birthday song. The lyrics are as follows: 

Zum Geburtstag viel Glück,

Zum Geburtstag viel Glück,

Zum Geburtstag alles Gute,

Zum Geburtstag viel Glück.

Another birthday song that you will hear at times, especially at children's birthday parties, is the one penned by Germany's favorite children's singer, Rolf Zuckowski. It's called "Wie schön, dass du geboren bist" ("It's great that you were born"). Here are the lyrics to that song: 

Wie schön, dass du geboren bist, 

wir hätten dich sonst sehr vermisst,

wie schön, dass wir beisammen sind,

wir gratulieren dir, Geburtstagskind.

English Translation

It's great that you were born.

Otherwise, we would have missed you very much.

It's great that we're together. 

We congratulate you, birthday child.

Another traditional birthday song doesn't use the words "happy birthday" at all, yet it's still common. For this version, sometimes the chair is lifted up while everybody sings along. Here are the lyrics to that song:

Hoch soll sie/er leben! 

Hoch soll sie/er leben!

Dreimal hoch! 

English Translation

Long may she/he live!

Long may she/he live!

Three cheers!

This song almost sounds like a chant. Listen to the tune here (and learn a few bonus phrases that are less commonly used but still amusing to memorize). 

How to Say 'Happy Birthday' in German

When filling out the birthday card, there are several ways to wish someone a happy birthday. Two common expressions are: 

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag. 

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag.

How Do Germans Celebrate Birthdays?

Learn more about typical German birthday customs here

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Bauer, Ingrid. "Learning the Birthday Song in German." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/birthday-songs-in-german-1444504. Bauer, Ingrid. (2020, August 27). Learning the Birthday Song in German. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/birthday-songs-in-german-1444504 Bauer, Ingrid. "Learning the Birthday Song in German." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/birthday-songs-in-german-1444504 (accessed March 23, 2023).