Last night I was at my boyfriend’s Birthday party, and when the Norwegians around me started singing “Hurra for Deg som Fyller ditt år” I thought “Oh damn, I still haven’t learned that song”. Then I fell in shame (as I usually do when this happens) and looked at other people and tried to remember the lyrics. I tried to hop and turn and stuff at the right moment, and hoped nobody would notice. But during the song I looked at the other foreigner in the room, a Colombian guy, and realised he was just saying “Ta ta TA ta” and eventually very loudly “GRATULERER” at the end of the song.
“You don’t know that song either, right?” I asked afterwards.
“Never managed” he said.
THANK YOU I am not alone!!
I have been here for 8 long years and never managed to learn the Norwegian Birthday song. This girl is really not trying to integrate, you might think. Well, yes I am. And I have. I speak and write Norwegian. I have Norwegian friends, and even have a Norwegian boyfriend who laughs hysterically every time he sees me struggling with the song.
“It is so simple!” he says, and then he goes on singing obscure lyrics very fast. I have elected this song the most difficult Birthday song in the world. It not only has a lot of lyrics, it also requires dance moves.
Reasons it is the hardest Birthday song in the world:
- It has an unbelievable amount of lyrics.
In English, all you need to learn is “Happy Birthday to you”. You repeat that a certain number of times, sometimes with the name of the person you are celebrating with. Number of brain cells required to sing this song in English: 3. Number of minutes one needs to remember this sentence: 2.
In Norwegian you need to learn minimum 9 sentences, none of them repeating itself at ANY point.
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?
(There is of course a second verse which has even more lyrics, see below).
2. Strange sentences with words in a messy order
The sentence structure of this song is very strange. It comes from old fashioned Norwegian (or should I say Danish?). Example: Alle i ring omkring deg vi står. Nobody ever says it like that in real life: Everyone in a circle around you we stand.
Ønske deg av hjertet alle gode ting: Wish you from our hearts all the good things. And what on Earth does Og si meg så mean?
Now try saying all these sentences very fast, in tempo, with the right melody, and with THE MOVES.
3. The dance moves
Then you also need to learn when to hop and turn and bow. Yes, dance moves are required. And at the right moment in the song. Just look at the Prince and Princess singing for the King’s birthday if you don’t believe me.
Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!
Yes, we congratulate you!
We all stand around you in a ring, (stand up)
And look, now we’ll march, (march)
Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around, (bend, nod, twirl)
Dance for you and hop and skip and jump! (hop and jump)
Wishing you from the heart all good things!
And tell me, what more could you want?
Translation of verse 1 is taken from Life in Norway’s article on the topic.
I am telling you, this is an exercise to make sure Norwegians don’t get Alzheimer’s too young. Keeps them active and sharp.
4. Why such a complicated song? Is this part of the Norwegian values?
This could really be a test for foreigners in Norway, because it is so hard.
I am guessing Sylvi Listhaug will soon ask for foreigners to sing this song when wanting to cross the Norwegian border. If you don’t sing the lyrics right or don’t twirl at the right moment, you’re OUT! After having passed the test of eating a whole pack of Brunost and skiing without falling of course.
Don’t worry, for now the best reason to learn this song is not to feel like a fool at birthday parties.
And for those who want to look extra-integrated, here is the second verse of the song (which I have never heard any Norwegian sing, by the way). In my wildest dreams I sing like like a bird in front of struggling Norwegians:
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!
If you want to laugh real hard, I was interviewed by the Norwegian radio NRK P1 on the program Norgesglasset, and they asked me to sing the song, or my version of it. Listen here to the podcast.
To thank you for reading until the end, an illustration a little bit more edgy than the first one 😉 They do look like they are on happy drugs sometimes, don’t they?
Want to read more humour texts on how to understand the Norwegians? Check out my book here!