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Chinese Song Happy Birthday

I will teach you this simple but beautiful song: happy birthday to you(祝你生日快乐)(zhu4 ni3 sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le4) in Mandarin-Chinese.

Next time, you can sing this beautiful song in both English and Mandarin-Chinese at your family or friend’s birthday party.

Let’s take a look at the lyric in Mandarin Chinese and English.

  zhu4 ni3 sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le4
happy birthday to you

zhu4 ni3 sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le4
happy birthday to you

zhu4 ni3 sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le4
happy birthday to you

zhu4 ni3 yong3 yuan3 kuai4 le4
wish you happy forever

Today, more and more young Chinese families start to celebrate birthdays as western people do. It means they will celebrate their birthday each year.

Usually, people will hold a birthday party at a restaurant. Family and friends give gifts or money envelopes and have lunch or dinner together.

We will sing happy birthday song(生日快乐歌) too. Of  course, a birthday cake (生日蛋糕) (sheng1 ri4 dan4 gao1) will be provided.

When I was little, we didn’t celebrate birthdays in this way though. We only celebrated birthdays every 10 years. Yes, it is 10 years gap! So a birthday celebration is very important for us.

I still remember, when I was 10 years old, oh, it is a long long time ago, time flies very fast, my grandma came to my house. My other relatives came to my house.

They brought me gifts, usually, money envelopes or gifts like a bucket of eggs or a hen, yes, it is a real hen not a toy one.

My mom cooked a birthday dish for me, usually, it was a bowl of doodle(面条)(mian4 tiao2) and two eggs(鸡蛋) (ji1 dan4).

Doodle is long. It means long-living, a really nice wish. How about two eggs?

It means two zero. So one long noodle means 1, two eggs means two zero, together, they are 100!

A bowl of noodles and two eggs have a good wish:   May you live up to 100 years old. (长命百岁)(chang2 ming4 bai3 sui4).

As I mentioned, old Chinese families celebrate a birthday every 10 years, so a birthday celebration is usually a family-together event.

On that specific day, a big family, it means grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. every one will get together.

In the old-time, we ate at home. Usually, the mom was the cook, other relatives helped of course. If it is the mom’s birthday, other relatives did the cooking job.

Maybe many of you don’t know it. Chinese people count age in a different way.

We think life starts at the very beginning when the heart starts to beat, so my Chinese age is a bit older than my western age.

Well, I would like to celebrate my western age sometimes to make me feel younger. But in the deep of my heart, I know I am a bit older.

There was a tradition. An old person passing 60 usually celebrates his birthday one year ahead.

For example, he might celebrate his 70th birthday when he is actually 69, celebrate his 80th birthday when he is actually 79.

Why? It is reasonable. An older person has a big chance to pass away at any time.

By celebrating his birthday a year earlier, the family wants to make sure he could get a chance to celebrate his coming soon birthday.

After all, we celebrate a birthday every 10 years. It is really long waiting for most of us.

I hope you learn a lot about Chinese culture just on the subject of birthday. Now let’s sing the song together.


(traditional characters)



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