Wishing Someone a Happy Birthday in German

Happy Birthday
Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag, Mama!. Morsa Images / Getty Images

If you're going to speak the language, it's important to learn how to wish someone a happy birthday in German. Before giving birthday greetings, though, you need to know about an important cultural point especially among older Germans: Wishing a German a happy birthday before his special day is considered bad luck, so don't do it. And as for gifts and cards you may want to send, make sure to mark on the package that the recipient should open it only on her birthday or afterward—but never before.

There are also a number of ways to say happy birthday in German, but birthday wishes can vary widely whether they are spoken or written, or even depending on where the recipient resides in Germany.

Spoken Birthday Expressions

The following phrases first show how to say happy birthday in German, followed by the translation in English. Note that the translations are the English equivalents and not literal, word-for-word translations.

  • Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag! > Happy birthday!
  • Alles Gute zum Geburtstag! > Have a good birthday!
  • All das Beste zum Geburtstag! > All the best on your birthday!
  • Viel Glück zum Geburtstag! > Best of luck on your birthday!
  • Ich gratuliere Ihnen zu Ihrem 40/50/60 etc. > Congratulations on your 40/50/60th etc. birthday.
  • Herzlichen Glückwunsch nachträglich. > Happy belated birthday.

Written Birthday Expressions

You can write all of the above-mentioned expressions in a card, but if you want something a little more ausführlicher (detailed), you may want to try some of these expressions.

  • Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag und viel Glück/Erfolg im neuen Lebensjahr! > Happy birthday and much happiness/success in the new year.
  • Ich wünsche dir zu deinem Geburtstag alles Liebe und Gute—verbringe einen wunderschönen Tag im Kreise deiner Lieben. > I wish you all the best on your birthday. May you spend a wonderful day surrounded by those you love.
  • Ich wünsche dir einen herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag und alles Liebe und Gute und ganz viel Gesundheit und Spaß. Lass dich schön feiern. > I wish you a happy birthday and all the best and much health and fun. Have a good time celebrating.
  • Herzlichen Glückwunsch und alles Gute zum Geburtstag wünscht dir (your name). > I wish you happy birthday and all the best on this day.
  • Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum (birthday number)sten und alles Gute. > Happy Xth birthday and all the best.

Happy Birthday From All Over Germany

Not every city or town in Germany says happy birthday exactly the same way. You may run into variations in dialect, depending on where you are in the country and where the birthday Junge oder Mädchen, Mann oder Frau (boy or girl, man or woman) lives. The city or region is listed on the left, followed by the German happy birthday greeting and then the English translation.

  • Bayern (Bavaria): Ois Guade zu Deim Geburdstog! > Happy birthday!
  • Berlin: Alles Jute ooch zum Jeburtstach! > All the best on your birthday!
  • Friesland: Lokkiche jierdei! > Happy birthday!
  • Hessen (Hesse): Isch gratelier Dir aach zum Geburtstach! > I congratulate you on your birthday.
  • Köln (Cologne): Alles Juute zum Jeburtstaach! > All the best on your birthday!
  • Norddeutschland (Plattdeutsch -> Low German): Ick wünsch Di alls Gode ton Geburtsdach! > I wish you all the best on your birthday.