Sweden and the Birthday Song

How to sing happy birthday like a Swede!

Since Swedes are a pretty reserved bunch, it would be reasonable to expect their birthday song to be calm, serene, and melodic. But expectations rarely match reality! The Swedish birthday song is loud, rambunctious, and good fun! It is very common to hear Swedes singing it at the top of their lungs, swinging from side to side, and while hold a raised glass.

And here is how it goes:

The Swedish birthday song (Ja må du leva)

Ja, må han leva!
Ja, må han leva!
Ja, må han leva uti hundrade år!
Javisst ska han leva!
Javisst ska han leva!
Javisst ska han leva uti hundrade år!

Och när han har levat
Och när han har levat
Och när han har levat uti hundrade år!
Ja, då ska han skjutas
Ja, då ska han skjutas
Ja, då ska han skjutas på en skottkärra fram!

Ett fyrfaldigt han leve …
HURRA! HURRA! HURRA! HURRA!

And now in English

Yes, may he live!
Yes, may he live!
Yes, may he live for a hundred years!
Of course he will live!
Of course he will live!
Of course he will live for a hundred years!

And when he has lived
And when he has lived
And when he has lived for a hundred years!
Yes, then he will be wheeled
Yes, then he will be wheeled
Yes, then he will be wheeled away in a wheelbarrow!

A quadruple he lived

HURRA! HURRA! HURRA! HURRA!

It takes a dark turn at the end there with the wheelbarrow, huh? It is a song you will definitely hear while living in Sweden! Another is Helan Går!

Want to hear the song in action? Listen to this.

Fun Facts:

  • Today is my partner’s birthday! Happy birthday, Nick!
  • The number of HURRA!s at the end of the birthday song differs where you live in Sweden. It is said that the fourth HURRA! is sung for the Swedish king. Therefore, most of Sweden will say HURRA! four times. But in Southern Sweden, which was once a part of Denmark, it is not common to give a fourth HURRA! for the Swedish king, so you’ll only hear three HURRA!s here in Malmö!
  • Want to wish a Swede happy birthday? Grattis på födelsedagen will do it!

Tess’ Tips:

  • The song is easy enough to learn if you are committed! But it is also easy to just pretend you are singing along — especially if you are next to an especially loud Swede!
  • If you are celebrating a birthday in Sweden on a Saturday there needs to be lördagsgodis and fika!

Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!

Sources

6 thoughts on “Sweden and the Birthday Song

  1. Tess,
    Happy Birthday to Nick. I absolutely loved the song! Fabulous lyrics and energy. Thank you for your informative posts. Also, my best to you and your folks in the states.

    Liked by 1 person

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