Two things about birthday celebrations that remain consistent in every culture are songs and greetings. These are universal ways of honoring and sharing with others the special moment and the joy of the guest of honor. Did you realize, however, that the song is not the same in every culture?
One of the Norwegian traditions I like best is the singing of Hurra for Deg (Cheers for You), the Norwegian birthday song. It was written by Margrethe Aabel Munthe (1860 – 1931). Though there are two verses, more often only the first verse is sung.
The kids are at heritage camp this week learning Norwegian and the traditional handcrafts of our heritage. This year, parents have been provided little glimpses of camp life via Facebook. I was delighted that one of the counselors shared a short video of some of the girls singing Hurra for Deg as they worked on their Rosemaling. While I am unable to share the video, it inspired me to share the lyrics with you.
Hurra for deg som fyller ditt år!
Ja, deg vil vi gratulere!
Alle i ring omkring deg vi står,
og se, nå vil vi marsjere,
bukke, nikke, neie, snu oss omkring,
danse for deg med hopp og sprett og spring,
ønske deg av hjertet alle gode ting!
Og si meg så, hva vil du mere?
Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!
Yes, we congratulate you!
We all stand around you in a ring,
And look, now we’ll march,
Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around,
Dance for you and hop and skip and jump!
Wishing you from the heart all good things!
And tell me, what more could you want?
Hurra for Deg is a lively tune and a lot of fun to sing. Consider adding a few dance movements for a more rousing version:
Everyone stands in a circle around the birthday honoree. Begin singing while you are standing in the ring.
When you come to “march”, then march all around the birthday child with high knee-lift, while looking at him/her.
On “Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around”, make these movements wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.
On “Dance for you, hop and skip and jump,” begin to dance in a circle around the birthday child. Try to make eye contact with him / her, as this gives attention.Continue the dance the rest of the song.
After the song is finished, deserves celebrating a real generous applause!
If you are interested, here’s the second verse:
Høyt våre flagg vi svinger. Hurra!
Ja, nå vil vi riktig feste!
Dagen er din, og dagen er bra,
men du er den aller beste!
Se deg om i ringen, hvem du vil ta!
Dans en liten dans med den du helst vil ha!
Vi vil alle sammen svinge oss så glad:
En av oss skal bli den neste!
Til å feste!
We wave our flags up high! Hurray!
Yes now we’ll really celebrate!
The day is yours, the day is great,
But you’re the best!
Look in the ring who you want to choose!
Dance a little dance with who you want to!
We’ll all turn around together so joyfully,
And one of us shall be the next – to celebrate!