How to Say ‘Happy Birthday’ in Portuguese (Audio Included)

Could it be that a loved one’s birthday is coming up and you want to learn to say Happy Birthday in Portuguese? Congratulating a person in their native language is a great way to get yourself some brownie points.

Even better if you’re able to sing happy birthday in Portuguese. Or prepare traditionally Portuguese or Brazilian snacks for a birthday party.

Regardless of whether you’re only curious or looking to impress someone, we’ve got the answers you seek. Learn about how birthdays are celebrated in Portugal and Brazil, how you can wish or sing someone a happy birthday, and the birthday culture in these two countries. 

Get your notepad and a pen, because you’ll want to note these down!

How to say Happy Birthday in Portuguese

Raspberry birthday cake

The most basic way to wish someone a happy birthday in Portuguese is to say parab√©ns.

This expression is always used to congratulate people, whether it’s their birthday, wedding, graduation, they got promoted at their job or achieved any goal, really. It’s pronounced as puh-ruh-beh-ins, although it differs ever so slightly depending on whether the dialect is Portuguese or Brazilian.

Now, if you’d rather say happy birthday plain and clear, you may say feliz anivers√°rio, pronounced feh-liz ah-ni-vehr-sah-ri-oo.

Although some cultures consider it unlucky to congratulate someone on their birthday after it’s passed, this is not the case in Portugal or Brazil. In fact, it’s the opposite: you shouldn’t wish someone a happy birthday or give them a gift before the actual day! This is likely due to old superstitions, as centuries ago, infant mortality rates were quite high, so it was seen as inconsiderate and unlucky to wish a child a happy birthday in advance.

Anyways, if you’d like to wish someone a happy belated birthday in Portuguese, you should say feliz anivers√°rio atrasado. This is pronounced feh-liz ah-ni-vehr-sah-ri-oo ah-trah-zah-doo, and literally means ‘ happy late birthday’.

Important birthday milestones in Portugal

18th birthday party celebration

Like everywhere else in the world, some birthdays are more important and worthy of celebration than others.

As a general rule, people give greater attention to the end (or beginning) of another decade. So the 10th, 20th, 30th, and so on, birthdays are considered to be big milestones. Then, of course, making it to 50 years old and even 100 years old is perhaps the most party-worthy occasions.

But in Portugal, as in any other country, some birthday milestones allow for new liberties (and duties). Here are the most important: 

  • 16: A person can acquire a motorcycle driving license and drive it, as well as work legally.
  • 18: This is the big one. Upon reaching 18, you can drink/purchase alcohol, vote, get married, drive any vehicle, and pretty much do anything any adult would want to.
  • 21: Not really a celebratory one, but at 21, people are no longer recognized under the Young Adult act. This is what would have them be trialed in the juvenile court for any crimes. So after reaching this age, Portuguese people may be trialed as adults.

Important birthday milestones in Brazil

Birthday wine toast

Although there are some similarities, Brazil definitely does things a bit differently from Portugal, being in another continent and all. Here are the birthday milestones in Brazil that will grant you special rights or new duties:

  • 14: You can actually start working at age 14, as long as it’s only as an apprentice.
  • 16: At this age, you may work full-time (with a contract, too) and you may even vote!
  • 18: So, at this point, voting becomes mandatory. You may also get a driver’s license, drink alcohol, get married, buy a house, and… get arrested.

Birthday traditions in Portugal

In Portugal, some people will wish you a happy birthday (in Portuguese, of course) right as the clock strikes midnight. Either that or they will wait until the morning, wake you up with a nice breakfast, and sing you Parab√©ns a/pra Voc√™ (the happy birthday song) right from the get-go.

When we’re young, sometimes our parents will prepare a cake and some snacks so we can bring them to school and celebrate with our friends. But there’s usually always a party on the following Saturday or Sunday (remember, always after, never before). As sometimes school days won’t allow for a proper celebration or the birthday may fall on the weekend, it’s customary to throw a party then. It’s also common to do this amongst adults.

Gifts are always optional, except within the family, especially if you’re a child. Then gifts are expected and sometimes even mandatory.

Kids doing rock climbing

In terms of venue, people either choose to hold a small party at home or book a place that specializes in birthday events – especially for kids.

Up until I was maybe 10, I remember celebrating always at these smaller, amusement park-like themed venues. There would be entertainers, plenty of trampolines, tunnels, and ball pits.

Also, a yummy (if unhealthy) meal composed of only kid-approved snacks: chips, popcorn, chocolate, gummies, jello, and cake – of course!

Birthday party

As for grownups, restaurants, pubs, and nightclubs seem to be the go-to. In fact, it’s customary to always have a party at home with the family (maybe even some friends), in which the main attraction is unquestionably the decked-out tables.

I’m talking miniature pastries, charcuterie and cheeses, cocktail shrimp, the traditional ham and cheese sandwiches (either with loafed bread or pointy milk bread, the ‘bico de pato’), deep-fried snacks, fresh fruit salads, the list goes on…

And of course, there’s always a cake! Personally, I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, and I know of a few others like me. But there will always be a form of cake, even if only to blow the candles and appease the guests.

Now, if you’re curious about some of the pastries and sweets featured on the birthday table, you can read this article on mouthwatering Portuguese desserts and try to make them yourself!

Birthday Traditions in Brazil

I’ve been told that when it comes to Brazilian children’s birthday parties, the scale is pretty similar. There will either be a home party, a party in a specialized venue, or both.

And the funny thing is that oftentimes, the birthday kid’s parents are the only adults in attendance. Could you imagine?

There are some cases in which only close relatives or entire Brazilian families will come to a child’s event, and bringing a gift is expected.

Birthday gifts

Of course, there are some Brazilian food staples that are featured at birthday parties.

The undeniably most popular are coxinhas, a sweet or savory, bite-sized traditional snack. They’re usually a deep-friend dumpling-like food, filled with seasoned shredded chicken involved by a potato-ey dough and grainy bread crumbs. Other salgadinhos (small savory snacks) might make an appearance, serving mainly as an appetizer.

Whether you’re a kid or a grownup, the classic birthday cake will surely be present. It’s usually saved for last and at a kid’s birthday parties, the birthday boy/girl will offer the first slice to someone they deem worthy of it. It’s a great honor if you’re the chosen one! Although, almost always, that will be one of their parents.

How to sing Happy Birthday in Portuguese

Singing happy birthday in Portuguese is usually done with the familiar melody most countries use. There is a slight variation in the song, between the Portuguese and Brazilian versions.

The Brazilian repeat the same verse twice while the Portuguese have a completely different second verse. Also, the Brazilian Version is named Parab√©ns pra Voc√™, while the Portuguese version is Parab√©ns a/pra Voc√™.

Here are the lyrics to the Brazilian version:

  • Parab√©ns pra voc√™
  • Nesta data querida
  • Muitas felicidades
  • Muitos anos de vida
  • Parab√©ns pra voc√™
  • Nesta data querida
  • Muitas felicidades
  • Muitos anos de vida

This repeated verse would roughly translate to:

  • Happy birthday to you
  • On this wonderful day
  • Many cheers
  • Many years of life

Now the Portuguese lyrics will obviously differ in the second verse, 

  • Parab√©ns a voc√™
  • Nesta data querida
  • Muitas felicidades
  • Muitos anos de vida
  • Hoje √© dia de festa
  • Cantam as nossas almas
  • Para o(a) menino(a) [name of birthday boy/girl]
  • Uma salva de palmas

With the second verse translating to:

  • Today’s for celebrating
  • Let our souls sing
  • For our boy/girl [name]
  • A round of applause

And sometimes (or most of the time), a person will begin a third and a fourth verses, and others will join in. They go like this:

  • Hoje o/a [name] faz anos
  • Porque Deus assim quis 
  • O que n√≥s desejamos 
  • √Č que seja feliz
  • Tenha tudo de bom
  • O que a vida contem
  • Tenha muita sa√ļde
  • E amigos tamb√©m

Which means:

  • Today it’s [name]’s birthday
  • Because God wanted it so
  • What we can only wish
  • Is that they’ll be happy
  • May they only have good things
  • All that life can give
  • May they have plenty of health
  • And friends, too

You can hear the full birthday song, extra verses and all, in this lovely video by Mia Esmeriz:

Talking about age in Portuguese

Here’s something interesting about talks of age in Portugal and Brazil, a lady will either conceal their age like in most places or they will proudly reveal it. So, when in doubt, never ask a Portuguese or Brazilian lady their age. If they want you to know it, you will!

If you know a Portuguese or Brazilian person whose English isn’t the best, you’ll probably hear them say ‘I have ___ years’ instead of ‘I am ___ years old’. This is because, in the Portuguese language, years are something you have, not are.

So, when you want to ask someone’s age, you’ll say:

To which you may receive an answer along the lines of:

old Portuguese lady

Other expressions in Portuguese related to birthdays

Although being able to say ‘Happy Birthday’ in Portuguese is already a pretty good start, there may be a few things you’d like to say to the birthday boy/girl. You might want to wish them good fortune for the future… Maybe even learn a few birthday-related expressions and vocabulary.

Below are a few common expressions that may be useful:

And here a few birthday related words:

Oh, and if you’re wondering why the word for ‘birthday‘ sounds more like ‘anniversary‘, that’s because it means both. An anniversary is an annual celebration on the day that some special event took place. So, what’s more special in life than the day we come to it, right?

I hope you’ve learned a thing or two today and that you’ll be able to wish someone a happy birthday in Portuguese in the future. Now if you’re curious about how to say thank you/you’re welcome in Portuguese, how to greet people, and other everyday expressions, I suggest you read these articles:

And if you’re interested in learning more about Brazil or Portuguese culture, go ahead and try these:

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