How to Say Happy Birthday in Swedish: Tune in to the Song!

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Sweden is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and it’s also a happy place to live in. Even if you don’t speak Swedish yet, there are many ways for foreigners (like me) to integrate themselves into Swedish culture – including learning happy birthday songs that are sung all over Sweden on special occasions.

In this blog post, you will learn how to say happy birthday in Swedish as well as its translation so that you can sing along! This could be a good way to learn Swedish too.

I’m currently learning Swedish too so writing this post helps me refresh my Swedish!


Birthday celebrations are a big deal everywhere in the world. We have our own ways of celebrating it, but if you are new in Sweden and you are invited to your Swedish friend’s birthday celebration, then you need to know the Swedish birthday traditions and how to greet happy birthdays in Swedish!

Swedish birthday traditions

In the Philippines, we have a weird way of celebrating a birthday. Usually, the birthday celebrants treat their friends and pay for their meals! They can also plan the celebration at their homes and prepare both the food and drinks.

In Sweden, everyone will pay for their own meals when eating out to celebrate a birthday. But, if the birthday celebrant decided to host, guests are usually expected to bring their own alcohol.

I have been to a few Swedish birthday celebrations only and there can be different ways on how most Swedes celebrate their birthdays. But, the most common one is the princesstårta (princess cake) as a birthday cake and singing the Swedish birthday song!

How to greet Happy Birthday in Swedish

The way to greet someone with a happy birthday in Swedish depends on the level of relationship.

  1. Grattis på födelsedagen! – this is the most common greeting to wish someone a happy birthday. This means “congratulations on your birthday”.
  2. Grattis! – a less formal way of wishing someone a happy birthday. This means “congratulations”.
  3. Ha den äran på födelsedagen! or Ha den äran! – a more formal way and this means “have the honor on your birthday!”
  4. Hjärtliga gratulationer/lyckönskningar! – I often see this on birthday cards and it means heartfelt congratulations.

Swedish birthday song (Ja, må han leva)

When I first saw the English translation of this happy birthday song, I was surprised and found it different! It’s not a song you would sing to people’s birthdays.

I like the tune of happy birthday in Swedish though!

Ja, må han leva is translated as Yes, may he live. So, if you are singing to a birthday girl, then you use “hon” instead of “han“.

Only the first part of the song is usually sung at children’s birthday parties. The second part is skipped out because it sounded “morbid”. But, this is an example of Swedish humor as my Swedish friend told me also!

At the end of the song, it is followed by

Ett fyrfaldigt han leve…

Watch the video below to learn more about the Swedish happy birthday song!

Where to buy fun birthday gifts in Sweden

Birthdays are always a fun time, and finding the perfect gift can be even more enjoyable. Of course, you wouldn’t want to come to a birthday party empty-handed, right?

If you’re looking for some great ideas on where to buy birthday gifts in Sweden, here are the stores that I recommend:

If you want more options (like a department store), here are the stores that I recommend:

I know one of the challenges of living abroad in Sweden is making Swedish friends. After almost four years in Sweden, I have more Filipino friends than Swedish friends.

I hope this post helped you understand more about Swedish traditions. Who knows, maybe you can sing along when your friends sing happy birthday in Swedish?

Want to know more phrases and words in Swedish? Regardless of whether you just recently moved to Sweden or just planning to visit, learning the common Swedish phrases and words can help you enjoy your stay in Sweden!

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