45 cheery ways to say happy birthday in German (+ song & card)

Did you know that Germans are allowed to drink before they’re allowed to drive and if you’re single when you turn 30, your German friends might force you to sweep the stairs of your local town hall or to publicly clean some door handles?

Birthdays can mean something very different in Germany than they do in the US. Learn all about German birthday-related milestones, while we teach you how to say happy birthday in German in all possible situations.

This will come in handy because when learning German and being surrounded by German-speakers, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually run into someone who is celebrating their birthday.

Luckily, we’ve listed all the different ways to wish someone a Happy Birthday - from “Happy birthday, grandma” to “Happy birthday, my love” in German.

How to say happy birthday in German

The most common way to wish someone a Happy Birthday in German is by saying “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!” (Literally: All the good things for your birthday).

Other very common variations include:

  • Alles Liebe”; and
  • Herzlichen Glückwunsch”.

Women attending a party say happy birthday in German.

English German IPA
Happy birthday (All the good things for your birthday)Alles Gute zum Geburtstag![ˌaləs ˈɡuːtə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
Happy birthday (All the lovely things for your birthday)Alles Liebe zum Geburtstag![ˌaləs ˈliːbə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
Only the best for your birthdayNur das Beste zum Geburtstag![nu:ɐ̯ das bəstə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
All the best to you on your special dayAlles Gute zu deinem Ehrentag[aləs gu:tə tsu: daɪ̯nəm e:ʁɛnta:k]
Happy birthday!Happy birthday![hæp.i ˈbɜːθ.deɪ]
Congratulations to your birthdayHerzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag[hɛɐ̯t͡slɪçən glʏkvʊnʃ tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
Enjoy your birthday!Genieße deinen Geburtstag![gənjsə daɪ̯nən ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
Have a beautiful birthday!Hab einen schönen Geburtstag![ha:p aɪ̯nən ʃø:nən ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
All the good things to youAlles Gute[aləs gu:tə]
All the lovely things to youAlles Liebe[aləs li:bə]
I hope you have a nice birthdayIch hoffe, du hast einen schönen Geburtstag[ɪç hɔfə du: hast aɪ̯nən ʃø:nən ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
I hope this is the best birthday, yetIch hoffe, das ist dein bester Geburtstag bisher[ɪç hɔfə das ɪst daɪ̯n bəstɐ gəbu:ɐ̯tsta:k bɪshe:]
Happy Unbirthday! (Alice in Wonderland)Alles Gute zum Nichtgeburtstag![ˌaləs ˈɡuːtə tsʊm nɪçtɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
Let yourself be celebrated properlyLass dich ordentlich feiern![las dɪç ɔɐ̯dəntlɪç faɪ̯ɐn]
Celebrate nicely!Feier schön![faɪ̯ɐ ʃø:n]
Belated happy birthday!Alles Gute zum Geburtstag nachträglich![aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk naxtʁɛ:klɪç]
Thanks for being born!Danke, dass du geboren wurdest![daŋkə das du: gəbo:ʁən vʊɐ̯dəst]
I’m glad that you were born!Schön, dass du geboren wurdest![ʃø:n das du: gəbo:ʁən vʊɐ̯dəst]
Happy birthday, my love.Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag, Liebling.[hɛɐ̯t͡slɪçən glʏkvʊnʃ tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk li:plɪŋ]
Happy birthday, brother/sister/mom/dad.Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Bruder/Schwester/Mama/Papa.[aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk bʁu:dɐ / ʃvɛstɐ / mama / papa]
Happy birthday grandma/grandpa.Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Oma/Opa.[aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk o:ma / o:pa]
Another year around the sun - happy birthday!Ein weiteres Jahr um die Sonne - alles Gute zum Geburtstag![aɪ̯n vaɪ̯təʁəs ja:ɐ̯ ʊm di: zɔnə - aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
Wishing you a very happy birthday!Wünsche dir alles Gute zum Geburtstag![vʏnʃə di:ɐ̯ aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
Wishing you a very happy birthday! (Formal)Wünsche Ihnen alles Gute zum Geburtstag![vʏnʃə i:nən aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
HBD (English abbreviation)HBD[ha: be: de:]
Happy birthday, my friend.Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, mein Freund.[aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk maɪ̯n fʁɔʏ̯nt]
Happy birthday, cousin.Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Cousin / Cousine.[aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk ˈkʌz(ə)n / kuˈziːnə]
Best birthday wishes to you!Liebe Geburtstagsgrüße![li:bə ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːksta:ksgʁʏsə]
Happy birthday beautiful!Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Schönheit![aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk ˈʃøːnhaɪ̯t]
Happy 21st/ 30th/40th/50th birthday!Alles Gute zum 21. / 30. / 40. / 50. Geburtstag![aləs gu:tə tsʊm ˈaɪ̯nʔʊntˈt͡svant͡sɪçstn̩ / ˈdʁaɪ̯sɪçstn̩ / ˈfɪʁt͡sɪçstn̩ / ˈfʏnft͡sɪçstn̩ ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk]
Time to blow your birthday candles!Zeit, deine Geburtstagskerzen auszupusten![tsaɪ̯t daɪ̯nə gəbu:ɐ̯tsta:kskɛɐ̯t͡sən aʊ̯st͡su:pʊstən]
Make a wish!Wünsch dir ‘was![vʏnʃ di:ɐ̯ vas]
Hope all your birthday wishes come true!Ich hoffe, alle deine Geburtstagswünsche gehen in Erfüllung![ɪç hɔfə alə daɪ̯nə gəbu:ɐ̯tsta:ksvʏnʃə ge:ən ɪn ɛɐ̯fʏlʊŋ]
Happy birthday in heaven.Alles Gute zum Geburtstag im Himmel.[aləs gu:tə tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk ɪm hɪməl]
Happy birthday, have a good one!Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag und alles Gute![hɛɐ̯t͡slɪçən glʏkvʊnʃ tsʊm ɡəˈbʊʁt͡sˌtaːk ʊnt ˌaləs ˈɡuːtə]

Happy birthday in German song [video] with lyrics

We have a German version of the classic Happy Birthday, too, but since we all know that one already and find it just a little bit boring, here’s a more entertaining German Birthday song.

The German band Foulaa System will directly put you in a happy mood for your birthday!

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag - Foulaa System

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag - Foulaa System

German lyrics:

Hört mal alle her
Ich hab gehört, jemand hat Geburtstag
Zum Geburtstag sagt Foulaa System “Alles Gute”
Wir wünschen dir alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

Guck mal, was ich gehört habe (Was hast du gehört?)
Ich hab gehört, jemand hat heute Geburtstag
Jemand ist ein Jahr älter geworden (oder ein Jahr jünger?)
Hauptsache: Im Herzen immer jung bleiben

Wir wünschen dir Gesundheit, Glück, Freude, immer gutes Wetter!

English translation:

Everybody listen up
I heard it’s someone’s birthday
For your birthday, Foulaa System says “Happy Birthday”
We wish you all the good things for your birthday.

Look what I heard (what did you hear?)
I heard that it’s someone’s birthday today
Someone turned one year older (Or one year younger?)
All that matters is: Staying young at heart

We wish you health, happiness, joy and endlessly good weather

Funny happy birthday wishes in German

Not everyone is crazy about aging. The older we get, the more we tend to take our birthdays with a grain of salt.

As always in life, it’s best to fight any possible negative feelings with a sense of humor! So here are a few funny happy birthday messages in German.

English German IPA
Statistics show that those who have more birthdays also live longer.Statistiken zeigen, wer mehr Geburtstage hat, lebt auch länger.[ʃtatɪstɪkən ˈtsaɪ̯ɡŋ̩ ve:ɐ me:ɐ gəbu:ɐ̯tsta:gə hat le:pt aʊ̯x lɛŋɐ]
Congratulations on getting slightly older!Herzlichen Glückwunsch, dass du einen Ticken älter geworden bist![hɛɐ̯t͡slɪçən glʏkvʊnʃ das du: aɪ̯nən tɪkən ɛltɐ gəvɔɐ̯dən bɪst]
Age doesn't matter unless you're a cheese.Alter spielt keine Rolle, es sei denn, man ist ein Käse.[altɐ ʃpi:lt kaɪ̯nə ʁɔlə ɛs zaɪ̯ dɛn man ɪst aɪ̯n kɛ:zə]
You’re aging like fine wine - getting better over time.Du reifst wie ein guter Wein und wirst mit der Zeit immer besser.[du: ʁaɪ̯fst vi: aɪ̯n gu:tɐ vaɪ̯n ʊnt vɪɐ̯st mɪt de:ɐ̯ tsaɪ̯t ɪmɐ bɛsɐ]
Take it easy! The first 100 years are the hardest.Nimm’s leicht! Die ersten 100 Jahre sind die schwierigsten.[nɪm ɛs laɪ̯çt di: ɛɐ̯stən hʊndɐt ja:ʁə zɪnt di: ʃvi:ʁɪçstən]
You made it through another year!Du hast ein weiteres Jahr überstanden![du: hast aɪ̯n vaɪ̯təʁəs ja:ɐ̯ y:bɐstandən]
The more candles burn, the larger the cake should be.Je mehr Kerzen brennen, desto größer muss auch die Torte sein.[je: me:ɐ kɛɐ̯t͡sən bʁɛnən dɛsto: gʁœsɐ mʊs aʊ̯x di: tɔɐ̯tə zaɪ̯n]
You just turned one year prettier again.Du bist gerade wieder ein Jahr hübscher geworden.[du: bɪst gəʁa:də vi:dɐ aɪ̯n ja:ɐ̯ hy:psɐ gəvɔɐ̯dən]
If someone calls you old, just hit them with your cane and throw your set of teeth at them!Sollte dich jemand alt nennen, schlag ihn einfach mit deinem Stock und wirf ihm dein Gebiss hinterher![zɔltə dɪç je:mant alt nɛnən ʃla:k i:n aɪ̯nfax mɪt daɪ̯nəm ʃtɔk ʊnt vɪɐ̯f i:m daɪ̯n gəbɪs hɪntɐhe:ɐ]

How to write a happy birthday card in German

There’s no nicer present than a thoughtfully handwritten birthday card! Here are some tips on how to get it right in German.

Learn to write a happy birthday card in German.

1. Find the right greeting

Start your letter by saying “Liebe” (female) or “Lieber” (male), followed by the birthday girl’s or birthday boy’s name.

If you have a very formal business relationship with them, you can use “Lieber Herr / Liebe Frau” with their last name, but even if it’s your boss, it’s likely you’re on a first name basis.

2. Choose a birthday wish that sounds good to you

You can choose your favorite one from our long list of birthday wishes. The most common options are “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag”, “Alles Liebe zum Geburtstag”, and “Herzlichen Glückwunsch", but you can play around with this and get creative.

3. Make the body of the card personal

Say a few nice things about their character and why you appreciate them. The purpose of our birthdays are to celebrate that we’re here. So think of all the reasons why you’re glad this person is in your life.

4. The End

Last but not least, leave a nice last sentence and sign with your name.

Example of a German birthday card

If you can’t think of your own words or you’re in a hurry to write a German birthday card, you can copy and personalize this example:

German English
GreetingLiebste Anna,Dearest Anna,
Birthday wishich wünsche dir alles, alles Gute zum Geburtstag!I wish you nothing but the best for your birthday!
BodyDu bist eine tolle Freundin und ich genieße es sehr, Zeit mit dir zu verbringen.
Mein Leben wäre ganz trist ohne unsere langen Spaziergänge und unseren Kaffeeklatsch bei der Bäckerei Knöpfle!
You’re a great friend and I really enjoy spending time with you.
My life would be so gray without our long walks and coffee talks at the bakery “Knöpfle”!
GreetingViel Spaß beim Feiern heute,Have fun celebrating today,
NameMelindaMelinda

Different German birthday-related milestones

In the US, you’re allowed to drive a car at 16 and drink at 21, but in Germany, you might be a little shocked to see just how different everything is.

Happy 16th Birthday!

In Germany, turning 16 actually means you’re allowed to buy and drink beer and wine, and go to clubs (until midnight). In some states, you’re also allowed to vote in local elections (Kommunalwahlen).

Happy 17th Birthday!

You can get your driver’s license and drive a car as long as you’re accompanied by an adult, who is registered to accompany you. Usually, this will be a parent or legal guardian.

Happy 18th Birthday!

In Germany, 18 is the big birthday. It means you’re officially an adult. You’re allowed to drive by yourself, buy liquor, and vote for the Bundestagswahl, which eventually decides who will be chancellor.

Happy 21st Birthday!

You may get some cake but unfortunately, not much else happens on this particular birthday. While 21 is a huge number for Americans, in Germany nothing’s gonna change for you. At this point, you have been legally sipping your beers for the past 5 (!!) years and alcohol is kinda old news.

Happy 30th Birthday!

This is when some friend groups start harassing their single friends with savage German birthday traditions.

  • If a man is single by the time he’s 30, he’s supposed to sweep the courthouse steps in his city or town with a broom!
  • Only if a lady passing by agrees to kiss him (obviously on the cheek), he is free to stop his cleaning spree.
  • Similarly, single women ​​are forced by their friends to clean door handles in public places, the tradition of the so-called “Klinkenputzen” and they, too, have to ask strangers for a kiss, so they can stop.

Happy any other Birthday!

Otherwise, German birthdays are celebrated very similarly, mostly with flowers, presents and cake.

In fact, the tradition of the birthday cake actually originated in Germany! You’re welcome.

Lastly, just remember to never wish someone a happy birthday early! Even though Germans are generally known to be very punctual, In Germany, it’s considered bad luck to wish someone an early happy birthday.

When you celebrate the night before, which is called “in seinen Geburtstag reinfeiern” (to celebrate into one’s birthday), you have to wait until midnight before you’re allowed to say Happy Birthday!

Check out German numbers to complement your German birthday greetings, particularly if you’re citing ages and milestones.

Wishing someone happy birthday in German early is considered bad luck.

There’s always reason to celebrate

Birthdays are supposed to be fun. In English, we call someone a birthday boy or birthday girl on their birthday and in German, everyone is called the “Geburtstagskind” (birthday child) - even if they’re turning 85.

That’s the whole idea of birthdays, right? We may age, but the truth is that we’re all still kids inside and on our birthdays, that’s officially ok. We say, life is short and every day should be celebrated. So if you’re feeling inspired, go play with balloons and eat some cake right now!

You know what else is a lot of fun? Reading our German language blog. So make sure you check it out and keep on learning new fascinating German words!

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