день рождения (birthday) is the most interesting occasion. And many people enjoy parties. So, what could be more enjoyable than a birthday вечеринкa party? Learn to say happy birthday in Russian and make your loved ones feel special on their happy occasion.
Russians love to celebrate. They like parties. And, as your Russian improves and you make more Russian friends, chances are you’ll be invited to a birthday party at some point. You will have the opportunity to отмeчать день рождения (celebrate someone’s birthday) in Russian.
Here is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about celebrating a birthday in Russian! You can now learn Russian for free, seeking guidance from these posts and exploring various dos and don’ts in the Russian language.
C днём рождeния! (Happy birthday!) is the most common way to say someone happy birthday in Russian. However, knowing how to celebrate the birthdays of your Russian friends entails far more than simply learning a few Russian words.
Some of the most important Russian birthday facts and traditions are as follows:
Birthdays command more attention in the Russian-speaking world than other occasions and birthday пoдарки (gifts) are usually more expensive than Новый Год (New Year’s) or Рождество (Christmas) gifts.
Birthdays are always celebrated on their respective dates. If the birthday falls on a weekday, it is celebrated the weekend after. It is considered bad luck to wish someone a happy birthday before the actual date.
Because the number 40 is associated with death, most people choose not to celebrate their 40th birthday. If you are confused about what to get the birthday boy or girl, here are a few suggestions that will always be appreciated. Money and chocolate are always appreciated birthday presents. Alcohol is a good option for men. Flowers or perfume are good choices for women.
Always give odd numbers of flowers because even numbers of flowers are for funerals, so giving an even number of flowers is a bad omen. Similarly, yellow flowers are inappropriate because they represent separation or indicate that the relationship is about to end.
While it may be considered acceptable practice in other countries to simply write “Happy Birthday” on a card or via text message, it is considered impolite in Russia. You are expected to spend time crafting the perfect message to wish the birthday celebrant good health, happiness, and success, regardless of their age.
In some cultures, asking someone’s age is considered impolite. In general, this is an acceptable question in Russia, unless you are addressing an older woman. Don’t ask an older woman her age out of courtesy.
There are several ways to greet someone on their birthday and wish them a happy birthday. С днём рождения (Happy Birthday) is the simplest and most typical way to wish someone a happy birthday.
Поздравляю с днём рождения (I congratulate you on your birthday) is a bit formal birthday greeting. If you want to get a little more specific, Russians have a number of standard phrases for conveying пожелания (wishes) for a birthday or any other holiday. Begin your own birthday wish for the именинник (birthday boy) or именинница (birthday girl), with one of these phrases:
- Я желаю тебе… — I wish you… (informal)
- Я желаю Вам… — I wish you… (formal)
Then, add one of the following phrases:
- всего самого наилучшего — all the best
- здоровья, благополучия, и счастья — health, wealth and happiness
- успехов во всех начинаниях — success in all your endeavors
- исполнения всех желаний — that all your dreams come true
- удачи — good luck
С днём варенья which literally means “Happy Jam Day” is another fun way to wish someone a happy birthday in Russian. These Russian greetings are not only fun-filled but are a great way to get closer to your Russian friends.
There is no “Happy Birthday to You” song in Russian, unlike in the United States and many other English-speaking countries.
The traditional “Happy Birthday to You” song has a Russian translation that is frequently used to teach Russian learners the necessary birthday vocabulary. Russians commonly sing a birthday song from the cartoon Крокодил Гена и Чебурашка.
Birthday parties, like most holidays in Russia and around the world, include a lot of celebratory food and drink. Traditional Russian dishes include:
- Бoрщ (borscht): a red beetroot soup served with sour cream and dill.
- Салат Оливье (Olivier salad): a variation of potato salad
- Пирожки (pirozhki): mini oven-baked or fried pies filled with meat, cabbage, cottage cheese, and jam, among other things.
Birthdays are no exception for Russians’ fondness for desserts. Birthday celebrations typically include Тоpт (cakes) or fruit-filled pies with the name of the birthday girl or boy written on the top.
The celebrant is always given the first piece. Russians frequently bake their own cakes and bring them to work or school to share with their coworkers or classmates.
Russians, like other countries, place the number of свечи (candles) on the cake that corresponds to the age being celebrated. When someone задувает свечи (blows out the candles), they should all go out at the same time.
And, if the person загадывает желание (makes a wish), it shouldn’t be shared with others for fear that it may not come true.
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Russians are also well-known for their fondness for водка (vodka). At Russian birthday parties, one person will sometimes take on the role of toastmaster for the evening. This is an important role, especially since it is customary to make a тоcт (toast) for each round served.
To get the perfect start, you can toast the виновница торжества (female hero of the day, i.e. female celebrating the birthday) or виновник торжества (male hero of the day, i.e. male celebrating the birthday).
Toasts are frequently directed at the honored person’s parents or family members as well. Other important toast-related vocabularies include:
- За здоровье! — To your health!
- За хозяйку этого дома! — To the hostess!
- За родителей! — To your parents!
- За именинницу! — To the birthday girl!
- За именинника! — To the birthday boy!
- Выпьем за то, чтобы мечты исполнялись не только в день рождения! — May all your dreams come true, not only on your birthday!
If you are finding these phrases difficult, there are several techniques to learn Russian easily. Remember, it is always feasible to learn any foreign language with a sound systematic plan rather than just keep on memorizing vocabulary words.
Important note: The expression На здоровье is often used incorrectly by foreigners. Naïve foreigners frequently say На здоровье to say “Cheers!” In reality, На здоровье is more appropriately used in place of “You are welcome” when someone thanks you for food or other refreshments as in the following example:
- Спасибо за кафе. — thank you for the coffee.
- На здоровье, Саша. — you are welcome Sasha.
Russians believe that you can never congratulate someone on their birthday enough. As you leave a birthday party, thank your host and remind the birthday boy/girl of your appreciation. Ещё раз с днём рождeния! (Happy Birthday, once more!)
If you realize you have forgotten someone’s birthday, you can always make amends by saying С прошeдшим (Happy Belated Birthday! — Informal) or С прошедшим днём рождения (Happy Belated Birthday! — Formal).
Learning how to say happy birthday in Russian is one of the most effective ways to get a little closer to Russian people. It is necessary for you to understand the Russian customs related to birthdays so that when you visit a birthday party next time, you act the same as the natives.
Wishing people their birthdays is a great way to make new Russian friends and make strong bonds with the existing ones.