Each family has traditional birthday rituals passed down through generations. Whether it includes your heritage, the type of birthday cake you’re making, or the games you play, traditions can be a big part of your birthday celebrations, especially for kid’s entertainment. There is one tradition that has stood the test of time around the world, the “Happy Birthday to You” song- in many languages and all ages.

We did some background checks on this popular tune’s history and here is what we found out!

Where it Began

The start of the happy birthday song has a bit of a controversy behind it, with its existence credited to more than one artist.

The melody of the song originated from a greeting song by school teachers, entitled “Good Morning to All,” composed in 1893 by American sisters Mildred and Patty Hill, although this accreditation was questioned at times.

The first time the combination of the words and melody of “Happy Birthday to You” appeared was in 1912. No credits were included in those first appearances. In 1924 Robert Coleman published updated lyrics that make up the popular tune we sing today.

The Summy Company then licensed copyright for the song in 1935, crediting the authorship to the Hill sisters. Around that moment, the birthday song was worth $5 million.

Was There a Song Before?

There is no record of any other particular songs being used before the traditional “Happy Birthday to You” at birthday parties or celebrations, but there were plenty of other festivities! As we know it today, in the late 18th century, the Germans created the birthday cake, and it became popularized around the world during the American Industrial Revolution.

The entire birthday idea started with the Egyptians after they realized the symptoms of aging. From celebrating the birth of influential religious figures, it has grown into celebrating “the common man” and we are now celebrating our birthdays with presents, cake, songs, and even special birthday party venues!

Can We Sing It?

Most people would not have known that ‘Happy Birthday to You’ was still illegal to sing openly until the year 2016 unless you paid a large fee. Singing openly could include singing it publicly on T.V., radio, or even at a party venue. This was because of the copyright which was registered in 1935 and was not set to expire until 2030. That changed though once a U.S. federal judge ruled that the claim to copyright was not valid and the song had no other claim to copyright, placing it in the public domain, and making it free to sing for everyone.

Birthdays Around the World

The traditional way of using “Happy Birthday to You” is through the song being sung by other guests at the celebration of the birthday boy/girl while they’re presenting a birthday cake. This tradition has reached throughout the globe and the tune has been translated officially into 18 different languages!

Your Turn!

The great thing about the birthday song, besides usually meaning cake is coming, is that memorizing and learning on almost any instrument is very easy. Most people would sing the catchy melody at home or at the party venue for kids if they have rented a nice place to celebrate together with friends and family. But you can do more than just sing the song! By learning only a few basic notes, on piano, guitar, violin, or any instrument, you can learn “Happy Birthday to You”.

During birthday parties, the party pros at Bounce U have seen some stunning renditions and can’t wait to see more. If you would like to share your birthday song with us, please contact us on Facebook today, or email us!

"When Did The Tradition of The Happy Birthday Song Begin?" was last updated August 28th, 2020 by

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