How to Say Happy Birthday in Russian

Birthday cake with candles and sparklers.
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The most common way to say happy birthday in Russian is С днем рождения (zDNYOM razhDYEnya). Of course, there are numerous other birthday wishes you can offer, depending on the situation and your relationship with the person whose birthday it is. There are also several well-known Russian birthday toasts and birthday songs.

Russian Birthday Greetings

  • The most common Russian birthday greeting is С днем рождения.
  • С днем варенья! is a fun, informal way to wish a happy birthday to children or friends.
  • In addition to the standard greeting, you can add extra birthday wishes, such as Желаю всего самого лучшего (wishing you all the best).
  • The most popular birthday song in Russia is called Песенка крокодила Гены (Crocodile Gena's Song).

Happy Birthday to Children or Friends

When addressing children or friends, you can say С днем варенья (zDNYOM vaRYENya). This expression is a fun, informal birthday wish that comes from the popular Russian cartoon Малыш и Карлсон (Smidge and Karlsson). С днем варенья translates to "Happy Jam Day."

Birthday Congratulations in Russian

Once you have given the standard birthday greeting (С днем рождения), you should offer additional birthday wishes. Here are the most common birthday congratulations in Russian.

Желаю всего самого лучшего

  • Pronunciation: ZhyLAyu VSYEvoh SAmavuh LOOtshivuh
  • Meaning: Wishing you all the best.
  • Usage: This expression can be used both formally and informally and is suitable for most situations.

Желаю самого-самого

  • Pronunciation: ZhyLAyu SAmavuh SAmavuh
  • Meaning: Wishing you all the very best.
  • Usage: This expression is informal and can be used with friends and family.

Желаю всего того, что ты/вы себе сам/а/и желаешь/желаете

  • Pronunciation: ZhyLAyu vsyVOH taVOH, SHTO ty/vy siBYE sam/saMAH/Sami zhyLAysh / zhyLAyitye
  • Meaning: Wishing you everything that you wish for yourself.
  • Usage: An informal expression, this birthday phrase is suitable when speaking to a friend, a close colleague, or a relative.

(Желаю) счастья и здоровья

  • Pronunciation: (ZhyLAyu) SHAStya ee zdaROHvya
  • Meaning: (Wishing you) happiness and health.
  • Usage: This is a general birthday expression and can be used in any situation.

Желаю успеха и радости

  • Pronunciation: ZheLAyu oosPYEhah ee RAdastee
  • Meaning: Wishing you success and joy.
  • Usage: A general expression suitable for formal and informal situations.

Желаю хорошего настроения

  • Pronunciation: ZheLAyu haROshivuh nastraYEneeya
  • Meaning: Wishing you good spirits / to be in a great mood.
  • Usage: This is an uplifting general phrase that can be used in most situations.

Желаю любви

  • Pronunciation: ZhyLAyu lyubVEE
  • Meaning: Wishing you love.
  • Usage: This is another general expression that can be used as an extra birthday wish in a series of good wishes.

Желаю чтобы у тебя все было, а тебе за это ничего не было

  • Pronunciation: ZhyLAyu SHTOby oo tyeBYA VSYO BYluh, ah tyBYE za EHtuh nichiVOH NYE byluh
  • Meaning: I wish that you have everything and don't get in trouble for it.
  • Usage: An informal and humorous phrase, it can be used in most informal situations, including work and family birthday celebrations. It is also great for using as a toast.

Birthday Toast

This humorous birthday toast is informal and playful. It's perfect for group birthday wishes, offered with glasses raised.

Желаю во всём быть первой / первым,
Всегда иметь вторую половинку,
Никогда не быть третьей лишней / третим лишним,
Иметь свои четыре уголка,
И что бы всё в жизни было на пять.

Translation:

Wishing you to always be first in everything,
To always have your second half,
To never be a third extra,
To have your own four corners,
And for everything in life to be a 5.

The toast uses the numbers one through five to offer cleverly-phrased wishes for success ("to be first in everything"), love ("your second half"), companionship ("never be a third extra"), a place of one's own ("your own four corners"), and happiness "everything in life to be a 5"). The use of the number 5 refers to the Russian grading system; a 5 is the highest grade a student can receive.

Happy Birthday Song in Russian

The best-known Russian birthday song comes from Cheburashka (Чебурашка), a popular Soviet cartoon. Called "Crocodile Gena's Song" (Песенка крокодила Гены'), the song creates a nostalgic birthday mood for many contemporary Russians. The lyrics are provided below with an English translation.

Песенка крокодила Гены' (Russian Lyrics)

Пусть бегут неуклюже
Пешеходы по лужам,
А вода по асфальту рекой.
И неясно прохожим
В этот день непогожий,
Почему я веселый такой.

А я играю на гармошке
У прохожих на виду.
К сожаленью, день рожденья
Только раз в году.

Прилетит вдруг волшебник
В голубом вертолете
И бесплатно покажет кино.
С днем рожденья поздравит
И, наверно, оставит
Мне в подарок пятьсот эскимо.

А я играю на гармошке
У прохожих на виду.
К сожаленью, день рожденья
Только раз в году.

Crocodile Gena's Song (English Translation)

Let the pedestrians run clumsily through the puddles
And the water run on the pavement like a river.
It is unclear to the passers-by
On this wet and dull day
Why I’m so happy.

And I’m playing the accordion
For everyone to see.
It is unfortunate, but
Birthdays
Only come once a year.

And suddenly a wizard
Would fly in, in a sky blue helicopter,
And show a movie for free.
He would wish me a happy birthday
And probably leave as a present for me
500 chocolate ice-cream lollipops.

And I’m playing the accordion
For everyone to see.
It is unfortunate, but
Birthdays
Only come once a year.

The English-Language Happy Birthday Song

The standard English-language birthday song has its own Russian translation. While it is not as popular as Crocodile Gena's Song, the birthday song is well-known in Russia and can be sung just as it is in English-speaking countries.

The Russian lyrics are:

С днем рождения тебя, с днем рождения тебя, с днем рождения, с днем рождения с днем рождения тебя.

Russian Birthday Traditions

Most Russians celebrate their birthday on or after their official birth date. This is because of a popular superstition which states that offering birthday wishes before someone's birthday could put that person in danger. For the same reason, giving presents before someone's official birthday is also frowned upon.

Some Russians put an extra candle on the cake to ensure a good birthday year. Candles are meant to be blown out all at once, and if you make a wish while blowing out the candles, it is considered bad luck to share it.

Another Russian birthday tradition involves pulling the birthday person's ears a certain number of times: their age in years plus one. The silly ritual is often accompanied by the following chant: 'расти большой и не будь лапшой' (rasTEE bal'SHOY ee ni BUD' lapSHOY). The saying literally translates to "grow big and don't be a noodle"—in other words, grow big and don't be foolish.