Happy Birthday to You!

School News January 09, 2023
Happy Birthday to You!

"Happy Birthday to You", also known as "Happy Birthday", is a song traditionally sung to celebrate a person's birthday. According to the 1998 Guinness World Records, it is the most recognized song in the English language. The song's base lyrics have been translated into at least 18 languages. It has become a tradition in Wycombe Abbey School’s 6th grade to wish fellow students well on their special day using three languages: English, American Sign Language, and Mandarin.

In English, the person whose birthday is being celebrated is filled in for "[NAME]".

It is traditional, among English-speakers, that at a birthday party, the song "Happy Birthday to You" be sung to the birthday person by the other guests celebrating the birthday. If you’re lucky, you’ll have in instrumentalist add their own touch to the festivities. The Birthday boy or girl is often presented with a birthday cake or sometimes two. Cutting of the cake takes on its own dramatic effect. Other treats may be offered; Milk teas and Bubble teas have become popular this year.

After the song is sung, party guests sometimes add wishes like "and many more!" expressing the hope that the birthday person will enjoy a long life. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, immediately after "Happy Birthday" has been sung, it is traditional for one of the guests to lead with "Hip, hip..." and then for all of the other guests to join in and say "...hooray!" This is normally repeated for a total of three times.

The second rendition is completed in American Sign Language. This should be done in complete silence, not an easy task for excited sixth graders. [NAME] is done with fingerspelling.

Thirdly, no birthday celebration in China would be complete without singing “Zhu Shang Ri Kuai Le”. No smearing of frosting on faces allowed though.

Finally, a small present is offered, a memento of the special day shared with special friends. Americans will typically include a Birthday Card with salutations by classmates and teachers. That tradition has waned with the technology age. Candles spelling "Happy Birthday", or equal to the number of years the birthday boy or girl is celebrating, are common types of birthday cake decorations that accompany this song. We forgo this tradition out of concern for safety. At last, we can tackle our collection of treats. Delicious.