Group of people gathered around a birthday cak

9 Authentic Ways to Say Happy Birthday in Chinese [Plus the Birthday Song, Common Phrases and More]

Your Chinese partner just invited you to their mother’s birthday celebration.

You want to make a good first impression on their family, so you decide to learn how to say “happy birthday” in Chinese.

Beyond Chinese birthday wishes, you can also learn the birthday song in Mandarin, as well as some common questions and responses for the birthday celebrant.

There are lots of ways to express Chinese birthday wishes, so let’s get started!


How to Say Happy Birthday in Chinese

1. 生日快乐! (shēng rì kuài lè!)

Plain and simple, this is the most common way to wish someone a happy birthday.

It’s composed of some easy characters you might already recognize, including 生日 (shēng rì), or “birthday.”

2. 祝你生日快乐! (zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè!)

This is the phrase if you want to specifically say, “I wish you a happy birthday,” or “Happy birthday to you.”

3. 心想事成。 (xīn xiǎng shì chéng.)

This idiomatic expression means: “May all your wishes come true.”

4. 天天快乐。 (tiān tiān kuài lè.)

Another general well-wishing phrase, this one means: “I hope you’re happy every day.”

5. 笑口常开。 (xiào kǒu cháng kāi.)

You can say this on birthdays or other days to say: “Be happy and wear a smile often!”

6. 祝您年年有今日,岁岁有今朝。 (zhù nín nián nián yǒu jīn rì, suì suì yǒu jīn zhāo)

Use this phrase on someone’s birthday to say: “May you have a day like this every year.”

Note that there are several translations for this saying, but they all generally wish happiness on the current birthday and future birthdays.

7. 希望你健康快乐地长大。 (xī wàng nǐ jiàn kāng kuài lè de zhǎng dà.)

To wish a child a happy birthday, you can say this phrase to mean: “I hope you grow up to be happy and healthy!”

8. 祝您福如东海,寿比南上。 (zhù nín fú rú dōng hǎi, shòu bǐ nán shàng.)

You can wish an elderly person a happy birthday with this poetic phrase to say: “May your fortune be as boundless as the East Sea, and may you live a long and happy life.”

9.  祝您身体健康,越活越年轻 (zhù nín shēn tǐ jiàn kāng, yuè huó yuè nián qīng.)

Or you can be a little cheekier with the elderly in your life and tell them: “May you be healthy, and get younger and younger.”

The Happy Birthday Song in Mandarin

While the English and Chinese versions of the birthday song use the same tune, the lyrics vary slightly in the Chinese birthday song.

Since traditional Chinese birthdays are celebrated on rarer occasions compared to birthday celebrations in other parts of the world, the Chinese song incorporates additional well-wishes. Well, that’s my guess for the reason, at least.

Here’s how to sing “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin, with pinyin and the English translation:

(zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè)
Happy Birthday to you

(zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè)
Happy Birthday to you

祝你幸福, 祝你健康
(zhù nǐ xìng fú, zhù nǐ jiàn kāng)
Wish you happiness, wish you good health

(zhù nǐ qián tú guāng míng)
Wish your future is bright

(zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè)
Happy Birthday to you

(zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè)
Happy Birthday to you

祝你幸福, 祝你健康
(zhù nǐ xìng fú, zhù nǐ jiàn kāng)
Wish you happiness, wish you good health

(yǒu gè wēn nuǎn jiā tíng)
And have a warm/cozy family

If you feel like singing along, here’s a YouTube video to help you practice:

While Chinese songs are great for improving fluency, remember that it’s best to read the words normally first to make sure you’re getting the right pronunciation and intonation for each word.

Tones sometimes aren’t clear in melodies, so it’s important that you master the pronunciation before you sing. This goes for any Chinese tune you might come across! Get a hand with your song-based studies on FluentU.

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Though the Chinese birthday song is a little longer than the English version, there’s actually a shorter version of the Chinese song, too. More people are familiar with this version, and it goes like this:

(zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè)
Happy Birthday to you

(zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè)
Happy Birthday to you

(zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè)
Happy Birthday to you

(zhù nǐ yǒng yuǎn kuài lè)
Wish you happiness forever

Questions to Ask the Birthday Celebrant in Chinese

Want to get the conversation rolling with the birthday celebrant? Here are a few questions you might want to have on hand.


Pinyin: nǐ xiàn zài jǐ suì le?

On the big day, you can use this question to ask: “How old are you now?”


Pinyin: nǐ shǔ shén me de?

This question is a traditional way of asking for someone’s age, by inquiring: “What year of the zodiac are you?”


Pinyin: nǐ de shēng rì yuàn wàng shì shén me?

The literal translation of this question is: “What is your birthday wish?” (or “What are your birthday wishes?”). In more colloquial English, you’re asking: “What did you wish for?”


Pinyin: nǐ huì jǔ bàn shēng rì pài duì ma?

Not sure if the person will be celebrating? Use this question to ask: “Will you hold a birthday party?”

Useful Mandarin Phrases for the Birthday Celebrant

If you’re the one turning a year older, here are several phrases you might want to know as the birthday celebrant.


Pinyin: wǒ __ suì le.

Fill in your new age (in Chinese, of course!) to tell someone: “I am __ years old.”


Pinyin: xiè xiè nǐ de lǐ wù.

Did you get gifts? Tell the giver this to say: “Thank you for the present/s.”


Pinyin: xiè xiè nǐ lái cān jiā wǒ de pài duì.

As your party guests leave, use this phrase to say: “Thank you for coming to my party.”


Pinyin: nǐ yào dàn gāo ma?

Who doesn’t love birthday cake?! Ask your friends and family “Do you want cake?” with this question.

Obviously, there are a million other questions to ask the birthday person and phrases to say as the birthday celebrant, but these should be enough to get you started.

A Bit of Background on Chinese Birthdays

Here are a few points to be aware of when it comes to celebrating birthdays in China:

  • Traditional Chinese birthday parties are mostly reserved for infants and the elderly. It’s a sign of respect for the elderly, while infants’ birthdays are celebrations of the succeeding generation.
  • Children are born as one-year-olds because of the lunar calendar. They also have a one-month birthday.
  • Babies are celebrated when they reach 100 days. This is considered the end of their most vulnerable time of life, as well as a celebration of the hope that they will live a life of longevity (to 100 years).
  • Another important feature is the concept of a life cycle. Sixty is considered one cycle of life, which is cause for celebration. After that, the person’s birthday is celebrated again every 10 years.

Chinese Birthday Traditions

Not all Chinese people celebrate their birthdays according to older Chinese traditions. In fact, more and more families are celebrating birthdays with cake, lots of food and gifts.

But it never hurts to learn about the customs surrounding traditions. For the sake of learning more about Chinese birthday culture, let’s talk about some traditions that are specifically Chinese.


Common dishes served on birthdays include birthday “longevity” noodles, called 长寿面 (cháng shòu miàn), as well as red dyed eggs called 红鸡蛋 (hóng jī dàn), which symbolize happiness.

The elderly are often presented with “peaches” for long life. These aren’t really peaches, but rather peach-shaped steamed buns that are sweet, known as 寿桃包 (shòu táo bāo).


Any of the food listed above can be given as a gift along with wine. For infants, a gift might be a red envelope filled with money known as 红包 (hóng bāo).

Something worthy to note about gifts is that you should give them with two hands, no matter how small the gift.

Chinese Birthday Taboos

With birthday traditions come birthday taboos. Here’s a list of Chinese birthday no-nos:

  • It’s bad luck to celebrate belated birthdays, so you must celebrate the day before or on the day.
  • Thirty is an unlucky year for women, so they’ll celebrate their 29th birthday two years in a row and then hit 31.
  • Forty is the unlucky year for men, so they end up staying 39 for two years, then turn 41.


Though you might not be an expert on Chinese birthdays, you at least have enough knowledge now to attend a traditional Chinese birthday party, and say “happy birthday” in Mandarin.

So go wish that special person 生日快乐!

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