How to Say Happy Birthday in Italian

Happy birthday in Italian! Today we’ll learn how to say “happy birthday” in Italian, as well as some fun facts about the language and its origins. Stay tuned for a pronunciation guide and some interesting tidbits about Italian culture!

Today is a very special day – it’s my birthday! I can’t believe I am already another year older, but I’m definitely excited to see what this new year has in store for me. One of the best parts of my birthday is getting to celebrate with friends and family, and this year will be no different. My parents are coming into town from Italy, and we’re going to have a big celebration together. In preparation for their visit, I’ve been brushing up on my Italian skills so that I can properly converse with them.
Italy has always been a place that holds a special place in my heart, so learning more of its language feels like a natural extension of that connection.

 

How do you wish someone a happy birthday in Italian?

Buon compleanno (listen to the pronunciation) literally means “good birthday” and Italians use it the same way English speakers use “Happy birthday”. Here are all the ways you can wish someone happy birthday, which are basically variations of these two:

  • Buon compleanno
    Happy birthday
  • Tanti auguri di buon compleanno
    Many wishes for your birthday
  • Auguri
    Good wishes
  • Tanti auguri
    Many wishes
  • Tanti cari auguri, amico mio (or in case of a female: “amica mia”)
    Many dear wishes, my friend

The most common phrases are buon compleanno, auguri and tanti auguri.

You can also wish someone a happy birthday by saying cento di questi giorni which literally means “one hundred of these days“.

You could also say felice compleanno, which means “happy birthday” in Italian. Felice literally means “happy.” However, this term is no longer widely used.

How to Say “Best Wishes” in Italian: Tanti Auguri

Buon compleanno is “happy birthday” in English, but Italians often use alternative phrases to greet the birthday person. Tanti auguri is the most popular one.

What does tanti auguri mean? If we were to literally translate it to English, tanti auguri would be “many wishes”. However, its meaning is closer to “best wishes”.

Note: As you see, tanti auguri doesn’t include the word compleanno, so it’s not only for birthdays. Actually, it’s the joker card when it comes to Italian greetings. You can use it to express your best wishes on Christmas as well as on New Years or Women’s Day.

You may also simply say Auguri! (literally “wishes”) or add the suffix -oni to make the wishes bigger: Auguroni!

Italian birthday traditions and useful vocabulary

Italians keep all the traditional major ways to celebrate a birthday (cake, candles, gifts), but there are some differences from other cultures such as the US. Usually when Italians celebrate their own birthday, they invite friends and family out and pay the dinner, or drinks, for everyone. Here you can find some useful vocabulary related to birthdays:

  • Torta – cake
  • Candeline – candles
  • Regalo – gift

Even if sometimes the price of the dinner is shared, with everyone paying their own food – especially for young generations – it is still a common tradition to pay for one’s own birthday dinner, so be prepared to come with a gift when your friend invites you out. The wrapping of the gift is also important. Wrap your present beautifully and choose a colorful ribbon.

Note that wishing happy birthday to a friend one or few days in advance is considered rude by Italian people. There is no actual reason for this, it is simply considered something that brings bad luck, so be sure to know the exact date of your Italian friends’ birthdays! If you forgot your friend’s birthday and want to wish them a belated happy birthday in Italian, you can say:

  • Tanti auguri in ritardo
    Happy belated birthday

It is also common to accompany your gift and wishes with a birthday card, where you need to write down a few words to the birthday boy or girl. Another Italian tradition is to open all the presents in front of everyone at the party, so you may want to buy something not too personal or that your friend won’t be ashamed to show in public.

The birthday boy/girl is also expected to buy the cake, or bake it. It is a common practice to sing the Italian version of Happy Birthday while the “festeggiato” is blowing out the candles on his/her birthday cake. He or she need to blow the candles and make a wish, just like in many other countries. It is believed that you cannot tell your wish to anyone, or it won’t come true!

  • Esprimi un desiderio
    Make a wish

Finally, Italian people love to celebrate not only their birthdays, but even their “onomastico”, which is their Saint’s day, as the majority of people have a Christian name. Especially in South Italy, this day is regarded as a big event, as important as a birthday, and during the occasion people also express their wishes with “tanti auguri”.

Happy birthday song in Italian

The Italian happy birthday songs follow the same melody as those in English and go like this (you can hear it here):

Tanti auguri a te,

Tanti auguri a te,

Tanti auguri a/caro/cara [sing name of the person]

Tanti auguri a te

While ‘for he’s a jolly good fellow’ goes like this:

Perche’ e’ un bravo ragazzo,

Perche’ e’ un bravo ragazzo,

Perche’ e’ un bravo ragazzo,

E nessessuno lo puo’ negar (lit. and no one can say otherwise)

Happy Birthday (Italian Version)

Buon Compleanno – Parabéns a você! – Happy Birthday – Joyeux Anniversaire – Feliz Cumpleaños
How do you say congratulations in Italian?

FAQs Happy Birthday in Italian

Basic Ways to Say Congratulations in Italian

  1. Complimenti! Complimenti! …
  2. Bravo/a! No matter how well you know Italian, you’re probably familiar with the common saying, bravo/a (good job). …
  3. Congratulazioni! …
  4. Felicitazioni! …
  5. Tanta felicità! …
  6. Cento di questi giorni! …
  7. Auguri! …
  8. Auguroni!

What are good Italian wishes?

  • best wishes (in greetings) tanti auguri; (in letter) cordiali saluti.
  • give her my best wishes le porga i miei più cordiali saluti.
  • with best wishes con i migliori auguri.
  • “with best wishes, Kathy” “cari saluti, Kathy”

LEARN ITALIAN HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! BUON COMPLEANNO!!!

Today’s your day, happy birthday!! Buon Compleanno, Tanti Auguri!! Special guests: Stefano and mom

Do you say Tanti auguri or Buon compleanno?
To say “happy birthday” in Italian, say “Buon compleanno!”, which literally translates into “good birthday.” Alternatively, use “Tanti auguri!“, or “many wishes” to express goodwill to someone on their birthday.

Conclusion

The Italians are the happiest people in the world, according to an international survey. One of the reasons for this could be because they say “buon compleanno” on their birthday rather than happy birthday. If you want to learn how it’s done then check out our blog post with a video that teaches you what all those words mean and how to pronounce them!

You can also say “Buon compleanno” (Happy Birthday) and then the person’s name. It is customary to give a present with the greeting, but not always necessary. Sometimes you will see people bring flowers or candy instead of gifts if they are coming from out-of-town so as not to have to carry anything home with them on their return. If it’s someone close by, many times neighbors will arrive at about 11 PM bearing food for a small party that starts around midnight with family members singing happy birthday in Italian while everyone eats!