The Happy Birthday Song in Chinese

Learn to Sing It, It's Easy!

Chinese family smiling at birthday party
Jade/Getty Images

The Happy Birthday Song has a strangely contested history. The tune was originally composed in the late 1800s by Patty and Mildred Hill, though the lyrics were not the same. In fact, the Hill sisters titled the song "Good Morning To All." Somewhere along the way, the phrase "happy birthday" became associated with the melody.

In 1935, the Summy Company registered a copyright for the Birthday Song. In 1988, Warner Music bought that copyright and has been making big bank ever since.

Warner Music charged royalties for public performances of the Happy Birthday Song and appearances in film soundtracks. Only until 2016 did the popular song become public domain. In February 2016, a US federal judge closed a case ruling that Warner Music does not hold a valid copyright to the Happy Birthday Song's lyrics and melody.

Now, the Birthday Song finally belongs to the public and is considered one of the most popular songs in the world. It has been translated into many languages, including Mandarin Chinese. It's an easy song to learn in Chinese since it is essentially just two phrases repeated over and over again. 

Practice speaking the words to this song before singing them. This will ensure that you are learning the words with the proper tones. When singing in Mandarin Chinese, sometimes the tones are not clear given the melody of the song.

Notes

 祝 (zhù) means "wish" or "express good wishes".

祝你 (zhù nǐ) means "wishing you."

 快樂 (in traditional form) / 快乐 (simplified form) (kuài lè) can be preceded by other happy events such as Christmas (聖誕節快樂 / 圣诞节快乐 / shèng dàn jié kuài lè) or New Year (新年快樂 / 新年快乐 / xīn nián kuài lè).

Pinyin

shēng rì kuài lè

zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè
zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè
zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè
zhù nǐ yǒngyuǎn kuài lè

Traditional Chinese Characters

生日快樂

祝你生日快樂
祝你生日快樂
祝你生日快樂
祝你永遠快樂

Simplified Characters

生日快乐

祝你生日快乐
祝你生日快乐
祝你生日快乐
祝你永远快乐

English Translation

Happy Birthday

Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happy birthday
Wish to you happiness forever

Hear The Song

The melody of the song is the same as the birthday song in English. If you'd like to hear the Chinese version sung to you by the crooning Mando pop-star Jay Chou, here's a treat.