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How to sing “Happy Birthday” in America

Rewind, if you will, to my first couple of weeks in the US. I've been very kindly invited to a birthday party with around 25 others in the West Village and we've had a fantastic evening. There's been great food, lovely wine, and there's some soothing background music which is creating the perfect ambiance.

Out comes a cake. A delicious looking cake. A double-decker chocolate cake, covered in sprinkles (I love sprinkles).

Cue the singing.

“Haaaappy Birthday to you”, I'm completely on board, I know this one, so I join in.
“Haaaappy Birthday to you”, I'm in tune, I'm in tempo, I'm good to go.
“Haaaappy Birthday dear Kylie”, it's Gold for Australia, gold!
“Haaaappy Birthday to you!”, and I've made it through the whole song.

But there's a pause.

Nobody is “Hip-hip”ing!? Poor Kylie, missing out on the best part of “Happy Birthday”!
Don't worry, Aussie to the rescue:


Nothing. Crickets. Just a party of 25 lovely potential new friends staring at me like a fool. I've gone bright red and I have nowhere to go.

Now there's laughter. What the hell was the Australian doing!? What is “hip hip!” asking for!?

So, my fair readers:
At the end of Happy Birthday, after the final “Happy birthday to you”, just sit down and eat cake.

Josh Pugh

Josh Pugh

Josh is a business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh. Josh is also the President of Variety – the Children's Charity of New York, Secretary at The Mateship Foundation, and Founder & CEO at Fortnight Digital.View Author posts

7 thoughts on “How to sing “Happy Birthday” in America”

  1. I once heard some Europeans singing Happy Birthday in English but instead of singing:

    “Haaaappy Birthday to you”,
    “Haaaappy Birthday to you”
    “Haaaappy Birthday dear Kylie”
    “Haaaappy Birthday to you!”

    They sang:

    “Haaaappy Birthday to you”,
    “Haaaappy Birthday to you”
    “Haaaappy Birthday, Haaaappy Birthday”
    “Haaaappy Birthday to you!”

    It was odd.

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