Tanti auguri is the most common way of wishing someone a happy birthday in Italian.
Auguri derives from the Italian verb augurare (to wish), so the literal translation of tanti auguri would actually be “many wishes” or “best wishes” in English.
It’s a versatile phrase and can be used in many different situations: For example, you could say it to a couple getting married, and it would mean something like “all the best.” It really depends on the context!
How many times have you accidentally forgotten about someone’s birthday, or realized that it was your colleague’s birthday the week before?
Tanti auguri in ritardo(happy belated birthday) is a great way of politely wishing someone a happy birthday a few days later.
Even if you are good at remembering important dates, it is worth learning this phrase. You never know when you might need to use it!
Italian Birthday Vocabulary and Phrases
As well as learning how to wish someone a happy birthday in Italian, it is just as important to learn the vocabulary and phrases you’re likely to encounter at a birthday party attended by Italian speakers:
May your birthday be just the beginning of a remarkable journey filled with surprises and accomplishments!
The “Happy Birthday” Song in Italian (With Lyrics)
The “Happy Birthday” song translates to Tanti auguri a te (Happy Birthday to You) in Italian:
Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you) Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you) Tanti auguri [name] (Happy birthday, [name]) Tanti auguri a te (Happy birthday to you)
In the video, the word felici is inserted in the third verse, which means “many happy wishes.”
In the third line, it’s normally customary to say the name of the person whose birthday you’re celebrating, like in English. You can even include more than one name in the wish—connecting the names with the Italian word e (and).
To learn more about the song and see related vocab in other contexts, Tanti auguri a te is available to access on the FluentU website and the iOS and Android app.
The Italian birthday song is equipped with learning features, such as interactive subtitles with instant definitions and information on usage. For additional practice, you can click on the subtitles to add any word to a personalized flashcard deck or take post-video quizzes.
Just like the “Happy birthday” song in English, in Italian there are also many different versions of Tanti auguri a te. Check out these renditionsby the following artists:
Il Volo,meaning “The Flight,” is an Italian operatic pop trio who represented Italy in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest.
For this rendition of Tanti auguri a te, they perform in their signature operatic style. The lyrics are identical to the traditional version, so feel free to sing along!
Marcella Bella is a famous Italian singer who released this rendition of Tanti auguri a te in 1987.
While the chorus of the song follows the lyrics of the traditional birthday song, two additional verses have been added. This version borders more on being directed to an ex-lover.
This rendition is full of birthday vocabulary such as compleanno (birthday) and la festa (the party).
This version of Tanti auguri a te keeps the main lyrics of the original during the chorus but has added other lyrics as well.
The tune of this song is also different from the traditional version and contains lyrics related to celebration and friendship.
Italian Birthday Traditions
Italians like to celebrate in style! There are some traditions and special ages when celebrating birthdays in Italy. Here are a few worth knowing:
Special ages: The 18th birthday, called diciottesimo compleanno
, holds special significance in Italy, marking the transition from childhood to adolescence. Families may celebrate this occasion with a special party, as it means you can start doing “adult” things such as voting and getting your driver’s license.
Regali a Sorpresa
: Italians love surprises, and surprise gifts are a common birthday tradition. Friends and family members often plan unexpected gifts or outings for the birthday person.
: This is an Italian superstition commonly observed on birthdays. It involves touching iron (such as a key or a piece of jewelry) after expressing a hope or making a positive statement about the future. It’s believed that touching iron will protect the person from jinxing their good fortune.
Torta in Faccia
: While not exclusive to Italy, this tradition involves playfully smashing a piece of cake into the birthday person’s face.
Now you’re all ready to have an awesome birthday party or impress someone on their birthday with your Italian! Get your cake, candles and invitations ready!
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