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A Korean Happy Birthday

I spent the day running around with my daughter today. She had appointments to keep, and I sat in the waiting room while she went to her appointments. While I was sitting in the waiting room, I was messing with my cell phone, and all of a sudden, a video I had taken while I lived in S. Korea came up on my screen. It was a video of a birthday. They were singing the “Korean Happy Birthday” song. I probably included it in a blog once upon a time, but I probably didn’t write the words so people could learn to sing “Happy Birthday” in Korean if they wanted to, so I decided to send it out again and also give you the words to the song so you could learn to sing it if you wanted. However, I can’t get it to upload onto the computer from my blog for some reason, but it doesn’t stop me from teaching you to sing “Happy Birthday” in Korean.

The closest picture I could find to seaweed soup.// If you are treated well in Korea, someone makes you seaweed soup on your birthday. Photo by FOX on Pexels.com

Before I give you the words, it is important to say that birthdays are different in Korea than in America. In America, often our mother makes a cake or buys a cake. Sometimes we have a birthday party, and we always receive at least one gift if not more. We also celebrate on our birthday. However, all those things are not particularly true about other cultures, and Korea in particular. Usually, on the day you were born in Korea, your mother doesn’t make a cake. Korean women don’t bake. They don’t even make you a rice cake. Korean mothers make their kids seaweed soup on their birthdays. The soup symbolizes long life because it is healthy. In Korea, lots of foods have meanings, and seaweed has more than one meaning. You don’t want to eat seaweed soup on the day you take a test because seaweed is slippery, and the answers could slip away from you if you ate seaweed soup.

Birthday cakes are a modern idea in S. Korea, and probably don’t exist in N. Korea.//Photo by Ami Suhzu on Pexels.com

In old times, there was no birthday cake, but now a days, there are birthday cakes. Korea actually hasn’t had sugar that long, and many Korean mothers are still afraid of sugar and wheat flour, and many Korean children still aren’t allowed to eat those things. However, they make birthday cakes at the bakery, and your friends buy you a birthday cake. Usually, that cake is your birthday gift. It is a cake made with wheat flour and sugar, but there is much less sugar in it than in American cakes, and they are hardly sweet at all, but they are slightly sweet and taste good.

A bridge over the Han River in Seoul, S. Korea. Their highways are extremely modern, but the older people still hold to the old solar calendar that has been around for centuries and only celebrate their birthdays on the Lunar New Year.//Photo by Ethan Brooke on Pexels.com

The date can also be different than your actual birthday. In old times, they never remembered people’s birthdays right on their birthday. When the Lunar New Year comes, everyone in the country is considered one year older. There are older people who old celebrate the Lunar New Year as their birthday. Celebrating on the actual day that you were born was influenced by the people from the west who went into Korea. Young S. Koreans celebrate now on their actual birthdays, but if you go into N. Korea, they probably don’t because they are not as open to the outside world as S. Korea is. Here are the Korean words to “Happy Birthday to You.” It has the same tune as the English birthday song, just Korean words.

생일 축하 합니다! (pronunciation: seng-eel chookhahabneeda)

Congratulations on your birthday! (Or, happy birthday to you!)

생일 축하 합니다! (pronunciation: seng-eel chookhahabneeda)

Congratulations on your birthday! (Or, happy birthday to you!)

생일 축하 사랑 한 _______________(person’s name) (pronunciation: seng-eel chookha sarang han _______)

Congratulations, loved_____________ (person’s name) (Or, happy birthday, dear _____)

생일축하 합니다! (pronunciation: seng-eel chookha habneeda)

Congratulations on your birthday! (Or, happy birthday to you!)

Just sing it with the tune to “Happy Birthday to you,” and you will have it. Have fun with it!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

1 thought on “A Korean Happy Birthday”

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