If you’ve got a Croatian friend or family member the easiest way to show you care is to wish them a happy birthday in Croatian on their special day. So, how do you say happy birthday in Croatian and what other birthday traditions should you be aware of?
How to Wish Someone a Happy Birthday in Croatian
To say happy birthday to someone in Croatian, you’d say Sretan rođendan, which is pronounced “Sre-tan rojen-dan”. You might want to give it a few read-throughs to get the pronunciation correct before the big day.
Want to elongate the sentiment a little bit? You can say or sing Happy Birthday to you in Croatian. That’s Sretan rođendan ti, which is pronounced as “Sre-tan rojen-dan tee”. Again, give it a try before your friend’s birthday as Croatian is not the easiest language to manage.
Other Celebratory Phrases in Croatian
If you’re looking for alternatives to Happy Birthday or just need a celebratory phrase for an anniversary, promotion, or wedding, here are a few phrases you can use to impress your Croatian friends.
First of all, “congratulations” is a great catch-all phrase that you can use in many situations. To say congratulations you can say Čestitke which is pronounced as “Chest-eet-keh”. Alternatively, you can write all the best in the birthday card which is Sve najbolje .
If you want to say it out loud, normally at the end of a conversation, all the best in Croatian is pronounced “Sveh nai-bol-ee”.
How to Sing Happy Birthday in Croatian
Who doesn’t love the tradition of singing the Happy Birthday song? The awkwardness of the birthday person sitting in front of a cake, the off-key friends singing along, the delicious anticipation of cake? Well, in Croatian the birthday song is the same tune as it is in English.
The lyrics are pretty straightforward:
Sretan rođendan ti!
Sretan rođendan ti!
Sretan rođendan [insert name*]
Sretan rođendan ti!”
This is where practicing the happy birthday to you phrase is going to come in super handy. Here’s a super sweet family singing the song together:
Croatian Birthday Traditions
Curiously in Croatia, one of the birthday traditions is that the birthday person has to pay for everything. Yep, everything. So if you want a birthday dinner out in town, or drinks, you’ll be expected to foot the bill for the entire party.
It can get expensive quickly so think about your guestlist before you think about planning a big, extravagant party.
Croatian is a beautiful language and one that’s only growing in popularity, so learning a few key phrases in Croatian can only be handy moving forward. Start off with these congratulatory and celebratory phrases before moving on to the conversational basics.
Especially if you know someone who is Croatian, speaking to them in their native language is going to be much appreciated. Despite the growth in popularity of the country as a vacation spot, Croatian is a tricky language to learn, so it’ll go a long way!
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Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.