If you know someone who speaks Scottish Gaelic, it’ll be really special to wish them a happy birthday in Gaelic. So, let’s dive in and find out how!
You might not have heard of Scottish Gaelic before, but it’s a language that’s been proudly in use for centuries. Spoken across Scotland but especially in the more traditional Highland regions, Gaelic is having a resurgence in popularity.
With many young people seeking to reconnect with their proud Scottish heritage, and the debates around Scottish Independence, it’s increasingly likely that if you’re visiting Scotland, you’ll hear some Scottish Gaelic being spoken.
How to Say Happy Birthday in Scottish Gaelic
There are a few ways in which you can wish a happy birthday to someone who speaks Gaelic. If you just want to say a basic happy birthday Scottish Gaelic, you can say or write Là breith sona dhuit, which is pronounced “La bray son-ah doot”.
If you want to elongate the happy birthday greeting, you can say happy birthday to you. There’s a formal and informal version of this, with the more formal version mostly benign directed towards older Gaelic speakers.
The more informal version is Co-là-breith sona dhut , and you’d say it like “Ko la bray son-ah doot”. Alternatively, if you’re speaking to an older person and want to say happy birthday to you, you’d say or write Co-là-breith sona dhuibh. Phonetically this would be “Ko la bray son-ah dooth”.
More Celebratory Phrases in Scottish Gaelic
Sometimes you want to learn a Gaelic phrase that’s a little more generic. A phrase that’s going to be useful across birthdays, weddings, promotions, and more. There are a few of these that can be used, but let’s start with a classic.
Congratulations can be used in a wide range of situations which makes it a great phrase to learn. Again, there is an informal and formal version. The more informal version of congratulations is Meal do naidheachd.
If you’re saying congratulations out loud, you’d pronounce it as “Mel doh nay-okh”. If you’re speaking formally, or to an older person, you can say Meallaibh ur naidheachd, which is pronounced, “Mel-lav ur nay-okh”.
There are plenty of other celebratory alternatives that you can use to celebrate or congratulate friends and family members in Scottish Gaelic.
A classic way to end a conversation in a nice way or supplement a congratulatory message is to say “have a lovely day”. In Gaelic, this is Meal do latha sònraichte, which phonetically is “Mel doh laa sohn-ree-che”.
Alternatively, you can sign off with a slightly more formal-sounding “good day to you”. You can write this as Latha math thu, but if you’re saying it out loud, you can pronounce it “La ma lu-ii”.
How to Sing the Happy Birthday Song in Scottish Gaelic
Every culture seems to have a take on the traditional birthday song, and Gaelic is no different. The lyrics are pretty straightforward as it’s the same line repeated four times. Once you have that one line down, you’ve got it covered!
You’ll be pleased to know that it follows the same tune as the English and French language happy birthday songs, so it’s quite an easy birthday song to learn. The Gaelic lyrics are:
“Latha sona do bhreith,
Latha sona do bhreith,
Latha sona do bhreith
Latha sona do bhreith!”
As we know, this translates to:
“Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!”
In this video you can hear what the song sounds like in Gaelic:
You’ll notice that, unlike the English language version, there isn’t a space for the birthday person’s name. You can always slot it in on the third line if you want, but traditionally, they keep it the same all the way through.