How to Celebrate a Birthday in Russian?

Posted on August 18th, 2011

How is a Birthday Celebrated in Russia?

Friends and relatives would be invited over for a delicious dinner and a homemade cake with candles. Russian Birthday celebration is a lot of fun, it’s filled with plenty of jokes, dancing, singing, yummy homemade treats and lots of vodka! Just kidding :)… although, as you know, every joke has a little bit of truth to it … or how we say in Russian:

В каждой шутке есть доля правды.
Every joke has a little bit of truth to it.

Interestingly, this statement has also been rephrased in Russian to:
В каждой шутке есть доля шутки (а всё остальное правда :) )
Every joke has only a little bit of joke in it (and the rest is the truth).

Anyway, that was a little off topic, but coming back to celebrating birthdays Russian style – it’s always a lot of fun! Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

You don’t have to be stuck at home celebrating birthdays with your Russian friends though. You can take them out for drinks, or to a restaurant, a night club, or have an outdoor picnic.

Here is a quick video for today’s lesson:

How to Say Happy Birthday in Russian

And so, Happy Birthday in Russian is С днём рождения! [s DNYOM razh-DYE-nee-ya]!

You can also wish Happy Birthday in Russian in a playful way by saying – с днём варенья! Instead of с днём рождения!
Вареньe [va-RYEN’-ye] is jam and it rhymes with рождениe.

Expression С днём варенья! is from a scene of a Russian cartoon “Malish and Karlson”, it was used by character Karlson, who loved sweets, especially jam (варенье). So, instead of “с днём рождения!” he wished the little boy “с днём варенья!”.

Wishes on Birthday Cards in Russian

A Birthday card is a very important part of every Russian birthday celebration. If you are looking for a Birthday card in Russian, you could try a local Russian store, or you get a card in Russian from

If you would like to give a Birthday card to your Russian friend, you can write more then just the words “Happy Birthday” on it. Write birthday wishes and be as sincere as you can. Things you can wish on the card are: health, wealth, luck, love, success and many-many more.

For example, if you are writing a more formal Birthday card, for example, for your boss, you could say something like this:

Дорогая, Екатерина Васильевна,

От всей души поздравляем Вас с Днём Рождения! Желаем радости, счастья, здоровья, успехов в карьере, и исполнения всех ваших желаний!

С уважением,

Ваш коллектив.


Dear Ekaterina Vasilyevna,

We would like to wish you Happy Birthday from the bottom of our hearts! Wishing you joy, happiness, health, success in your career, and may all your dreams come true!


Your colleagues.

If you wou would like to wish Happy Birthday to your friend in Russian, you can be a little less formal and more personal and creative. For example:


Поздравляю тебя с Днём Варенья! Желаю тебе заботливого мужа, интересной работы, кучу зелёненьких, новый Мерседес, и отдых на Канарах!





Happy Birthday (Jam Day)! Wishing you a caring husband, an interesting job, a lot of bucks, new Mercedes, and vacation in the Canaries!



Or you can find a little poem on the Internet with birthday wishes in Russian, something like this:

Желаю счастья целый ворох,
Улыбок, радости букет,
Друзей надежных и веселых,
Счастливой жизни, долгих лет.

I am wishing you lots of happiness,
Smiles, and a bunch of joy,
Reliable and merry friends,
And a long and happy life.

Here are a few links to the sites, where you can find more Birthday wishes in poems:

There are many more Russian websites out there offering free birthday greetings in verse, just try the following keywords, and you will find a whole bunch: «поздравления с Днём рождения», «поздравления с Днём рождения в стихах».

If you are feeling creative, write your own poem! I am sure your Russian friend will be very impressed! Remember, the most important thing is that it comes from the bottom of your heart. :heart:

Do Russians Have Their Own Happy Birthday Song?

Good question! We do. Kind of… It’s not the kind of song you would sing to a Birthday girl or boy, it’s a song from a famous Russian cartoon «Крокодил Гена и Чебурашка» (“Gena the Crocodile and Cheburashka”), Gena the crocodile is singing this song on his Birthday. Read more about Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka.

The song is also known as “Песня Крокодила Гены” and “Пусть бегут неуклюже…”. You can also get this song on a CD – collection of songs by Vladimir Shainskiy:

The lyrics:
Песенка крокодила Гены

Пусть бегут неуклюже
Пешеходы по лужам,
А вода – по асфальту рекой.
И неясно прохожим
В этот день непогожий,
Почему я веселый такой.

Припев :
Я играю на гармошке
У прохожих на виду…
К сожаленью, день рожденья
Только раз в году.

Прилетит вдруг волшебник
В голубом вертолете
И бесплатно покажет кино,
С днем рожденья поздравит
И, наверно, оставит
Мне в подарок пятьсот эскимо.

Припев :
Я играю на гармошке
У прохожих на виду…
К сожаленью, день рожденья
Только раз в году.

If you would really like to sing happy birthday in Russian, you can just sing the famous Happy Birthday song translated into Russian. Yes, the song was translated into Russian quite a while ago, and, yes, you might hear it at Russian birthday parties. It’s really simple:

С днём рожденья тебя! С днём рожденья тебя!
С днём рожденья (person’s name)
С днём рожденья тебя!

Make a Birthday Wish And It Will Come True!

As you know, every Birthday ends with a birthday cake with lit candles, and so it does in Russia. We do believe that wishes made on your birthday come true, and it’s very important for a Birthday boy or a girl to make a wish while blowing out the candles… Take an advantage of this magic day and make a wish! You can only do this once a year!

Russian Birthday Vocabulary

День рождения [DYEN’ razh-DYE-nee-ya] Birthday
С Днём рождения! [s DNYOM razh-DYE-nee-ya] Happy Birthday!
Стукнуть [STOOK-noot’] from “стучать” (knock), “cтукнуть” in this case is used as a slang word and it actually means “to turn a certain age”. For example, you can ask:
– Сколько ему сегодня стукнуло? ( How old did he turn today?)
– Eму сегодня стукнуло 35. (He is 35 today.)

Отмечать (день pождения) [at-mi-CHAT’] celebrate birthday
Желать [zhi-LAT’] (v.) wish
Пожелания [pa-zhi-LA-nee-ya] wishes
Счастье [SHCHAS-tye] happiness
Любовь [lyoo-BOF’] love
Удача [oo-DA-cha] luck
Успех [oos-PYEH] success
Открытка [at-KREET-ka] card
Подписывать (открытку) [pad-PEE-si-vat’] sign a card
Подарок [pa-DA-rak] gift
Покупать (подарок) [pa-koo-PAT’] (v.) buy
Дарить (подарок) [da-REET’] give a gift
Торт [TORT] cake
Свеча [svee-CHA] candle
Задувать свечи [za-doo-VAT’ SVYE-chee] blow the candles out
Загадывать желаниe [za-GA-di-vat’ zhi-LA-nee-ye] make a wish
Именинник [ee-mye-NEE-neek] Birthday boy
Именинница [ee-mye-NEE-nee-tsa] Birthday girl
Приглашать на день рождения [preeg-la-SHAT’ na DYEN’ razh-DYE-nee-ya] invite for your Birthday party/celebration

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Have you ever celebrated a birthday Russian style? Please share your experiences by commenting below. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Have fun learning Russian! ;-)


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