How to say happy birthday in Italian
There are a few ways you can say happy birthday in Italian, and today you’re going to learn some of them.
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.
Buon compleanno is the most common way to say “happy birthday” in Italian.
It literally means “good birthday“, so it’s basically used like “happy birthday” in English. This makes it easy to remember.
Auguri is another common way of wishing someone a happy birthday.
It doesn’t literally mean “happy birthday”. Instead, it’s a more general way of wishing someone happiness.
You could also say tanti auguri which is a bit more emphatic.
What does auguri mean in Italian?
Auguri is the plural of augurio which means “wish“. So, it could be translated as “best wishes”.
Auguri is a little more versatile than buon compleanno and is often used on other special occasions.
Tanti auguri di buon compleanno!
Many wishes for your birthday!
Tanti cari auguri!
Many dear wishes!
Tanti auguri di buon Natale!
Tanti auguri di buon anno nuovo!
Happy New Year!
Tanti auguri per la festa della mamma!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Tanti auguri di buona Pasqua!
As you can see, you can just say (tanti) auguri followed by the word di and the name of the event/holiday.
You can also say auguri or tanti auguri to wish someone the best when they’re starting a new job, when they are going to have a baby, or for their anniversary.
When to say buon compleanno?
Note that wishing a happy birthday to a friend one or few days in advance is considered rude by Italians.
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!
On the other hand, if you’re a little late, you can try to fix it by saying:
Tanti auguri in ritardo!
Happy belated birthday!
How to sing the happy birthday song in Italian
Singing happy birthday in Italian is done by using the tanti auguri phrase, and it simply goes like this:
These are the lyrics of the happy birthday song in Italian:
“Tanti auguri a te,
Tanti auguri a te,
Tanti auguri a (the name of the person)
Tanti auguri a te!”
How to ask somebody about their age in Italian
It’s always good to know how old the festeggiato/festeggiata (birthday boy or girl) is.
You can ask them the following question:
Quanti anni compi?
How old are you today?
If you want to ask someone how old they are when it’s not their birthday, you should ask this question instead, as it doesn’t refer to a specific day:
Quanti anni hai?
How old are you?
You can also ask in which year they were born:
A: Di che anno sei?
B: Sono del settantadue
A: In which year were you born?
B: I was born in 1972.
If you know the numbers in Italian, it’ll be easier for you to have this kind of conversation with someone.
When approaching ladies, particularly mature women, it is preferable to ask about their birth date rather than their birth year.
If someone doesn’t want to tell you their age, they can just say the day they were born instead of the year:
Quando è il tuo compleanno?
Il 24 Marzo.
When is your birthday?
It’s on March 24.
Just so you know, we put the day first, and then the month.
If you ask someone you don’t know very well how old they are, and think they don’t look that age, you can say so in a polite way, like in the dialogue below:
A: Quanti anni ha?
B: Ho 45 anni.
A: Complimenti, non li dimostra!
A: Complimenti, li porta bene!
A: How old are you? (formal)
B: I’m 45 years old.
A: Congratulations, you don’t look it! (Literally: you don’t show them!)
A: Congratulations, you look pretty good! (Literally: you carry them well!)
Questions and answers about birthdays in Italian
Of course, when talking about a birthday in Italian, there are a few more things you need to know.
You might want to ask your friend what they want to do for their birthday:
A: Cosa vuoi fare per il tuo compleanno?
B: Non lo so, forse una festa a casa.
A: What do you want to do for your birthday?
B: I don’t know, maybe a house party.
If you want to ask your friend whose birthday is coming up soon what present they would like to receive, you can ask the following questions:
Che regalo vuoi?
What present do you want?
Cosa vuoi per il tuo compleanno?
What do you want for your birthday?
Italians like to celebrate their birthdays like people from other cultures: with a birthday cake, a birthday party or special meal, candles, and they usually receive gifts.
However, unlike in other cultures, when Italians celebrate their own birthdays, they invite friends and family out and pay the dinner, or drinks, for everyone.
Birthday cake and wishes
The birthday boy or girl is also expected to either buy or bake the cake.
While the “festeggiato” is blowing out the candles on his/her birthday cake, it is common practice to sing the Italian version of Happy Birthday.
As in many other nations, he or she needs to blow the candles and make birthday wishes.
It is believed that you cannot tell your wish to anyone, or it won’t come true!
Another typical Italian tradition is to open all the presents in front of everyone at the party.
You may want to buy something not too personal so that your friend won’t be ashamed to show it in public.
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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.
Happy birthday cards in Italian
Are you looking for a “happy birthday” card in Italian for your loved ones?
Check out these pins!
And, for a customized buon compleanno card in Italian, there’s a website to send virtual cards by email or by sharing them on social media.
It’s 100% Italian.
Here’s how to send a card:
- Click on a card
- Choose how to send it
- Add a note
- Type your name and email address
- Type the recipient’s email address
- Select the date to schedule the delivery of your card
Useful Italian expressions
Here’s a list of other important Italian expressions you need to know:
By the way, if you’re looking for the perfect gift for Italian learners, we recommend reading our post about it.
You and your Italian friends will have a blast!
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