Do you have Greek friends? Would you like to know how to wish them a Happy Birthday in Greek? If you have been to Greece, most likely you have already heard the popular wish «Χρόνια πολλά».
You can use this wish on national holidays like New Year’s, Easter, and August 15th, as well as on name days and birthdays. Those two words actually mean “many years”.So there you are! it is easy; you just say or write… xronia polla – or in Greek- Χρόνια Πολλά.
Of course, you would pleasantly surprise every Greek, if you could also sing the birthday song in Greek…So why not give it a try? The words might not be so easy, but it is a short song with a nice message.
Most Omilo students know the song since we always sing together on the birthdays of our staff, as well as their fellow students.
Note: you can only sing this song on the occasion of a Birthday, and not of a Name Day. So do not get confused when you celebrate a Name Day… for a Name Day you only say “Xronia polla”, but you do not sing. So this song is only sung on birthdays.
Let’s take a look at the lyrics and what they mean:
Να ζήσεις _____ και χρόνια πολλά,
μεγάλος, -η να γίνεις με άσπρα μαλλιά.
Παντού να σκορπίζεις της γνώσης το φως
και όλοι να λένε να ένας/μία σοφός.
Happy Birthday (literally: many years)
May you live (name), and many years,
May you become old with white hair.
May you spread the light of knowledge everywhere
And may everyone say, here is a wise one.
Now that you know the lyrics, it is time to sing along. Take a look at this video of the Omilo team and students singing at the birthdays of students and teachers. The song in the video is in the female form. Depending on if the person who has his/her birthday is a man or a woman, you need to adjust the song (see also parts marked in bold in the lyrics above).
Although there is a song for birthdays, it is good to know that in Greece, birthdays are actually celebrated less than name days, except in the case of children in primary school. On name days people gather, invite friends and family, give presents. In addition, they call each other to extend their best wishes …. Due to the fact that many Greeks have the same names such as Giorgos, Konstantinos, Giannis, Dimitris, Maria, Eleni,… many people have their name day on the same day, which almost makes it a ‘national celebration’.
So next time you are in Greece and you attend a name day or birthday, you know what to say or sing!
When you learn Greek, it is useful to know exactly when and where it is appropriate to wish someone a “happy this” or a “happy that.” In doing so, you will not only get a better feeling for Greek culture, but you will also experience a more authentic way of communicating with Greeks.
If you want to learn more specific wishes for Name Days or social celebrations, feel free to download our free eBook Greek Wishes for Social Occasions