The different ways to say and celebrate “Happy Birthday” in Spanish

By Lucia from Lingholic

The birth is something that has been celebrated throughout history. The Greeks celebrated it with other people who were born the same day as them with large honey cakes adorned with lighted candles. The Romans on their calendar even had a special day to celebrate each God they worshiped. The Pharaoh ordered closed all businesses so that there was no one who did not attend to the celebration and the Christians inculcated the tradition when they began to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, however, the song of happy birthday it originated much later in the United States by two teachers and sisters who were seeking to teach children the value of wishing everyone a good day; it was adopted by all cultures and sung during or at the end of the celebration that is done for the person in honor of his birth.

But there are many cultures, especially in Latin America; each country has done something different with the song. That is why a birthday in Ecuador, will never be equal to one held in Bolivia, to give an example. The story has been modified by the same people, but all was in order to make it more special for the person who hears it.

The cake, gifts, samples of affection from loved ones and the song Happy Birthday “Feliz Cumpleaños” in Spanish, are always present, however, there are many peculiar things which over the years have become tradition by these countries.

The main difference is that it is not the same birthday party of a child than an adult, much less than of an elderly person.

Being a child and being the birthday kid is synonymous of money, clowns, uncomfortable pinching cheeks and comments on your height and especially the piñata filled with candy.

On the other hand, a young adult’s birthday knows that he expected a long day, full of surprises, gifts, food, many selfies and many likes / dislikes. And most insurance is also a “surprise” party with a lot of alcohol; in some countries it’s not happy birthday, it’s Happy Level Up.

Meanwhile, for elderly people looks like if the end is getting closer, is no longer Happy Birthday,  it’s Happy Birthday “old you” and sometimes while others celebrate his birthday, the person gets depress, especially after 40 years.

At least until this point Happy Birthday seems the same conclusion regardless of the country, especially on the part of sinking the face of the birthday person on the cake when it will blow out the candles, yes, at least until they all begin with their own traditions.

For example, in Chile the birthday person receives “manteo” it means that four people hold it the person by the arms and legs and then, for each year served elevate and lower.

In Spain, Chile, Argentina, and in some places in Venezuela is customary to shout “Happy Birthday!” When you see the birthday person and pulling down “slightly” his ears once for each year they are celebrating.

In Paraguay and Uruguay starts a career after singing Happy Birthday, which is to give pats on the back (loud or soft) to the birthday person or sometimes people choose break eggs on his head and bathe him with flour to mimic the preparation of a cake.

In the Dominican Republic for some reason it is believed to be good luck watering down the birthday person, while in Mexico Happy Birthday is sung in the morning with ranchera: “Estas son las mañanitas que cantaba el Rey David…”

But one of the most extravagant traditions certainly is from Venezuela and the eternal birthday song. First of all do not start with Happy Birthday as most of countries but with another song called “Hay que noche tan preciosa” or “Oh what a precious night”. And it is from that point where expert’s members of the family and friends improvise a number of new and long verses, really, long verses.

When finally they end up singing “Hay que noche tan preciosa”  or “Oh what a precious night” people start singing Happy Birthday but in the same way as before, improvising long verses all with the goal to “increase the suspense”; this tradition can take so long that it is even possible that the candles on the cake are consumed. And if that were not enough, when finished singing Happy Birthday, there is always a slight possibility that someone says, “Wait a minute, we have to sing the Mañanitas” and everyone begins to sing again.

Lúcia is a language enthusiast and loves learning new languages.


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