Since I shared the Korean birthday song, I realized that many people were enjoying it. When I lived in Romania, they also had a special birthday song. However, the Korean birthday song was originally translated to Korean from English, and the Romanian birthday song is originally Romanian. The expression “La Multi Ani” is also used in many other cases. It is how you tell someone “Happy Birthday” in Romanian. It is also how you tell someone “Happy New Year” in Romanian. It is, basically, a way of congratulating someone, and is kind of like something you say when you toast with wine or champagne. Translated literally, it is “To Many Years!”
In Romania, the birthday tradition is similar to the one in English speaking countries, but not exactly. Instead of your mother baking you a cake or buying you a cake, the Romanians go home and make a cake and give pieces of cake out to all their friends. In fact, when I was teaching at the university, one of my students thought she should be allowed to have her birthday off from class so she could go home and bake. Romanians are great cooks!! The student who asked for the day off because of her birthday actually thought her request was completely reasonable. She wasn’t joking because everyone in Romania knows that people are busy baking and having a party on their birthday, and Romanians are big partyers, and often think parties are the reason for life. They really know how to have a good time!!
The cakes in Romania are slightly different than ones you find in America. In America, we have a cake with icing, and if it is layers, we have two layers. However, the Romanian cakes are much more intricate than American cakes. Their cakes will have several layers and often be covered with fruit. The people who bake in Romania are really serious when the get in the kitchen. They weight all the ingredients out and put much more effort into it than anyone I have seen in ay country. Their ingredients must all be top notch. An example of the kinds of things they do is if they are making soup, they won’t buy parsley at the store. It must be fresh parsley. If they want to use eggs, they prefer to get them straight from the chicken, if possible. When they make a meal, they always begin with soup before the main course. When they saw me just making a meal and not making soup before it, they said, “Why are you doing that? Soup isn’t very hard to make.” They are very serious about what happens in the kitchen.
As for their birthday song, I was having trouble remembering all the words, so I looked it up, and there are so many versions of the song “La Multi Ani” online that I can’t believe it! Some are used for birthdays, and some are just other renditions of the one I heard and sang with them all the time. Here are the words to the one that I sang with them in Sibiu, Romania, right in the middle of the Romania, the fifth largest city, two hours from Dracula’s castle in Brasov. (If you are unsure about any of the pronunciation, I gave you some pronunciation pointers at the bottom.) (If you search the web for “La Multi Ani,” you will find many renditions of this song. If you look on YouTube, it is under “La multi ani traiasca.” The tune is there.)
La Multi Ani
To Many Years
La multi ani cu sanitate,
To many years with health,
Sa va da Domnul tot ce doriti!
May the Lord give you all you wish!
Zile senine si fericire,
Cloudless days and happiness,
La multi ani sa traiti,
To live many years,
Multi ani, fericiti sa traiti.
Many years, to live happily,
La multi ani,
To many years,
Multi ani, fericiti sa traiti
Many years, live happily many years
La multi ani!
To many years!
1) The “a” is like the “a” in “father.”
2) “multi” is pronounced “moolts.” That “t” should have a comma on the bottom of it, and that is why it is pronounced “ts.” The “I” on the end is considered pronounced, but just barely, and at times, you may not really hear it.
3) “ani” is pronounced “ahn,” and again, that “I” on the end is considered pronounced, but just barely, and you may not hear it according to the speaker.
4) Any time there is an “e” or an “I” after a “c,” that “c” becomes a “ch” like in the word “ce,” pronounced, “chey,” and meaning, “what.”
5) “fericiti” is pronounced “feh-ree-chee-ts.” The “t” actually has a comma attached to the bottom of it. The vowels are pronounced like Spanish vowels. The “i” on the end, again, you can hardly hear.
6) “traiti” is pronounced “trah-eets.” The “r” is trilled. Just flap your tongue on the roof of your mouth and pretend like you are playing “cars” with a little kid, and make a sound of a car to trill your “r.” The “i” on the end, again, you can hardly hear. There are two different words for “live” in Romanian, and this one means “to be alive.”
7) “Zi” is how you say “day” in Romanian. It is pronounced “zee.” “Zile” is pronounced “zeelay.” This means “days.” There are many different ways to make a word plural in Romanian.
8) “Si” is pronounced like the English “she.” This “s” should have a comma attached to the bottom of it, and when there is a comma attached to the bottom, it is an “sh” sound.
9) “Doriti” is pronounced “dor-eets.” It is a long “o” that sounds like the letter “o.” The “r,” is trilled. The “t” should have a comma attached to the bottom of it, so it is pronounced “ts.” And, again, that “i” on the end is pronounced barely audible.
10) “Cu” is pronounced “koo.”
11) “Sanitate” is pronounced “sahneetahtey.” The “t” is more blunt than an English “t.” Put your tongue flatter against the top front ridge of your gums in the front of your mouth and partly on your teeth, and don’t let so much air come out of your mouth as an English “t.” I used to give my Romanian students a piece of paper to hold in front of their mouths to practice the English “t.” You hold the piece of paper in front of your mouth and say “t.” If the paper moves from your breath escaping, you are saying the English “t.” If the paper doesn’t move, you are saying the Romanian or Spanish “t.”
12) “Domnul” is pronounced “domnool.” If it is just “domn,” it is used like “Mr.” or “gentleman.” With “ul” attached to the end, it becomes, “the Lord” because “ul” on the end means “the.” The feminine counter part to this word is “Doamna” which is like saying, “lady” or “Mrs.” The “a” the end tells you it is feminine. It is pronounced “doh-ahm-nah.” If you go to Romania, these two words are written on the public bathroom doors for you to know which one to use.