The Translation of “Happy Birthday” into Mandarin Chinese – How to Write and Pronounce

Holidays & Special Events

By Kristy Tolley

Chinese culture is rich in traditions and customs, and birthdays are not an exception. If you want to extend your best wishes to someone celebrating their birthday in Mandarin Chinese, it is important to know the appropriate phrase to use.

The phrase “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin Chinese is written as “生日快乐” (shēngrì kuàilè). The phrase consists of two Chinese characters. The first character “生日” (shēngrì) means “birthday,” and the second character “快乐” (kuàilè) means “happy” or “pleased.” When combined, these characters form the phrase “生日快乐,” which is the most common and widely used way to wish someone a happy birthday in Mandarin Chinese.

It is important to note that in Mandarin Chinese, the order of words is different from English. Unlike in English where we say “Happy Birthday,” in Mandarin Chinese, the phrase is “Birthday Happy” or “Shēngrì kuàilè.” This difference in order is a cultural nuance that holds great significance in the language.

When celebrating birthdays in Mandarin Chinese-speaking countries, it is also common to sing the Mandarin Chinese version of the Happy Birthday song. The tune is the same, but the lyrics are different. The Mandarin Chinese version goes like this:





This song is a fun way to celebrate birthdays and show your best wishes in Mandarin Chinese. So the next time you want to wish someone a happy birthday in Mandarin Chinese, don’t forget to say “生日快乐” (shēngrì kuàilè) or sing the Mandarin Chinese version of the Happy Birthday song!

How to Say Happy Birthday in Mandarin Chinese?

To say “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin Chinese, you can use the phrase “生日快乐” (shēngrì kuàilè). This phrase is pronounced as “shung-rr-kwhy-ler”. It literally translates to “birthday happy”, and it’s the most common way to wish someone a happy birthday in Mandarin Chinese.

In addition to the phrase “生日快乐”, you can also use the phrase “祝你生日快乐” (zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè). This phrase is pronounced as “joo knee shung-rr-kwhy-ler” and it means “I wish you a happy birthday” or “Wishing you a happy birthday”. It’s a more personal and polite way to wish someone a happy birthday.

If you want to make your birthday wish more heartfelt and memorable, you can add the person’s name at the beginning or end of the phrase. For example, if the person’s name is “Li Lei”, you can say “Li Lei,生日快乐” (Li Lei, shēngrì kuàilè) or “祝你生日快乐,Li Lei” (zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè, Li Lei). This adds a personal touch to your birthday greeting and shows that you’re specifically wishing them a happy birthday.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that in Mandarin Chinese culture, it’s common to give birthday gifts or red envelopes with money as a gesture of good luck. This is especially true for special birthdays, such as the 60th or 70th birthday. So, if you’re celebrating someone’s birthday in Mandarin Chinese, consider adding a thoughtful gift along with your birthday wishes.

In conclusion, to say “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin Chinese, you can use the phrases “生日快乐” (shēngrì kuàilè) or “祝你生日快乐” (zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè). Adding the person’s name to the phrase can make it more personal. Don’t forget to also consider giving a birthday gift or red envelope as a traditional gesture of good luck.

Basic Greetings for Birthdays

When it comes to celebrating someone’s birthday in Mandarin Chinese, it’s important to know how to convey your festive wishes. Here are some basic greetings that you can use:

1. Happy Birthday!

To wish someone a happy birthday in Mandarin Chinese, you can say:

Zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè! (祝你生日快乐!)

This phrase literally translates to “Wish you a happy birthday!” and is the most common birthday greeting in Mandarin Chinese. It’s a simple and straightforward way to express your well wishes on someone’s special day.

2. Best Wishes on Your Birthday!

If you want to add an extra touch to your birthday greeting, you can say:

Zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè, qīngzhù zhùfú quánzhú! (祝你生日快乐,庆祝祝福全主!)

This phrase translates to “Wish you a happy birthday, celebrate with blessings from everyone!” It conveys a heartfelt sentiment and shows that you are wishing the person a joyful day filled with love and well wishes from all their loved ones.

3. May All Your Dreams Come True on Your Birthday!

If you want to express your hopes for the person’s birthday and beyond, you can say:

Zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè, mǎnyì yuèrén, mèngxiǎng chéngshí! (祝你生日快乐,满颐约人,梦想成实!)

This phrase means “Wish you a happy birthday, fulfillment in every aspect, may your dreams come true!” It’s a more poetic way to wish someone a happy birthday and express your sincere desire for their dreams and aspirations to be fulfilled.

Remember to say these greetings with a smile and genuine enthusiasm to make the birthday boy or girl feel truly special.

Traditional Cultural Expressions

In addition to the written language, traditional cultural expressions play a significant role in Mandarin Chinese. These expressions are deeply rooted in the culture and history of China and are often used in greetings and special occasions.

One example of a traditional cultural expression is the use of auspicious words and phrases. These words are believed to bring good luck and fortune to the recipient. For example, when wishing someone a happy birthday in Mandarin Chinese, it is common to use phrases such as “生日快乐” (shēngrì kuàilè), which directly translates to “happy birthday.” Another popular expression is “长命百岁” (cháng mìng bǎi suì), which means “longevity and hundred years of age.” These expressions not only convey well wishes but also reflect the Chinese emphasis on longevity, health, and prosperity.

Another integral part of traditional cultural expressions in Mandarin Chinese is the use of symbolism. Chinese culture places great importance on symbolism and the meanings associated with certain objects or numbers. For instance, the number eight is considered lucky because its pronunciation is similar to the word for “wealth” or “prosperity” in Mandarin Chinese. It is not uncommon to see birthday celebrations with eight symbolic dishes, symbolizing good luck and abundance.

Additionally, traditional cultural expressions extend beyond spoken words to include gestures and actions. For example, during a birthday celebration, it is customary to give and receive gifts with both hands as a sign of respect and appreciation. This gesture demonstrates the importance of maintaining harmonious relationships and showing gratitude.

Traditional Cultural Expressions Meaning
生日快乐 Happy birthday
长命百岁 Longevity and hundred years of age
Luck and prosperity

These traditional cultural expressions not only contribute to the richness of Mandarin Chinese but also provide insight into the values and beliefs of Chinese culture. They serve as a bridge to understanding and appreciating the cultural nuances and traditions that have been passed down through generations.

Common Birthday Greetings

When celebrating a birthday in Mandarin Chinese, it is common to use the following greetings:

Greeting Pinyin Translation
生日快乐 shēng rì kuài lè Happy birthday
祝你生日快乐 zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè Wishing you a happy birthday
祝你年年有今日,岁岁有今朝 zhù nǐ nián nián yǒu jīn rì, suì suì yǒu jīn zhāo Wishing you many happy returns of the day

These greetings are commonly used when congratulating someone on their birthday in Mandarin Chinese. They can be used in conversation or in written form, such as in a birthday card or message.

Birthday Song Lyrics

When it’s your birthday, it’s a special day,

We come together to sing and say,

Happy birthday to you, have a great year,

May all your dreams come true, we’re here to cheer.

Blow out the candles, make a wish so true,

With friends and family, we celebrate with you,

Another year older, another year wiser,

May you find joy in every surprise, every prize.

Cake and presents, laughter and fun,

Make memories on your special day in the sun,

May this year bring you all that you desire,

Happy birthday, we light your fire!

Celebrating Chinese Zodiac Birthdays

In Chinese culture, birthdays are often celebrated according to the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese zodiac follows a 12-year cycle, with each year represented by an animal sign. These animal signs are believed to influence a person’s personality traits and destiny.

When celebrating a Chinese zodiac birthday, it is common to incorporate symbols and traditions associated with the corresponding zodiac animal. For example, if someone is born in the Year of the Rat, they may decorate their birthday party with rat-themed decorations, such as paper cutouts or figurines.

During a Chinese zodiac birthday celebration, it is customary to have a special meal with family and friends. The meal may include traditional Chinese dishes that are believed to bring good luck and fortune. Red-colored foods, such as dumplings and fish, are often served because red is considered an auspicious color in Chinese culture.

Another important tradition during a Chinese zodiac birthday is the giving of red envelopes, also known as “hongbao”. These red envelopes contain money and are given as a symbol of good luck and blessings for the coming year. The amount of money inside the red envelope is often considered an important decision, as it reflects the giver’s generosity and good wishes for the recipient.

Chinese zodiac birthdays are also a time for reflection and self-improvement. Many people take the opportunity to set new goals or make resolutions for the upcoming year. It is believed that by doing so, one can attract positive energy and overcome any challenges that may arise.

In conclusion, celebrating a Chinese zodiac birthday is a meaningful and festive occasion in Chinese culture. It is a time for family, tradition, and hope for a prosperous year ahead.

Birthday Customs and Traditions

Birthdays are a special celebration in Mandarin Chinese culture, with their own customs and traditions. Here are some common practices:

1. Longevity Noodles: It is common to have longevity noodles on birthdays. These noodles, also known as “长寿面” (cháng shòu miàn), symbolize long life and good health. The longer the noodle, the better!

2. Red Eggs: On a baby’s first month birthday, it is common to have red eggs. The red color represents good luck and prosperity, while the egg symbolizes new life. The eggs are usually dyed red and distributed to family and friends.

3. Birthday Cake: Birthday cakes have become popular in Chinese culture, especially among the younger generation. Traditionally, these cakes were not part of Chinese birthday celebrations, but they are now commonly seen at modern birthday parties.

4. Lion Dance: In some regions of China, it is common to see lion dancers perform at birthday celebrations. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and chase away evil spirits. It is an energetic and colorful performance that adds excitement to the festivities.

5. Red Packets: During birthdays, it is common for friends and family to give red packets, also known as “红包” (hóng bāo), to the birthday person. These red envelopes contain money and are a symbol of good fortune and blessings.

6. Zhua Zhou Ceremony: The Zhua Zhou ceremony is a traditional practice held on a child’s first birthday. During this ceremony, a variety of objects are placed in front of the child, symbolizing different paths and occupations. The child’s choice is believed to predict their future career or interests.

7. Family Gathering: Birthdays are often celebrated with a family gathering, where family members come together to enjoy a meal and spend time with each other. It is a time for bonding and creating lifelong memories.

These are just a few examples of the customs and traditions associated with birthdays in Mandarin Chinese culture. They reflect the importance of family, good fortune, and well wishes for a long and prosperous life.


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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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