Birthdays are kind of weird when you think about it, right? They are these special occasions that take place once a year where you celebrate the day you were born. Regardless of how you feel about birthdays or what you do to celebrate your own, it is always nice to hear someone wish you a happy birthday. In Thailand, birthdays are celebrated each year in the same way as in the West, though some customs are a bit different. I thought it would be great to go over how to say ‘Happy Birthday’ in Thai. Make sure you remember this for your friends next birthday and I am sure they will be delighted!
To get started, let’s have a look at how to say happy birthday. The truth is that they often just say happy birthday in English. As you can imagine, they say it with a Thai accent, so it would sound more like ‘happy bert-day’ as they do not have the equivalent of the ‘th’ sound in their language. It would look like this written in Thai: ‘happy bertday’ (แฮปปี้เบิร์ธเดย์).
Oh, and they still sing the ‘happy birthday’ song that we are all likely familiar with in English too. However, they again sing it in a Thai accent. As you can see, studying Thai doesn’t always have to be difficult. There is however another phrase that you can use that means happy birthday in Thai. That phrase is ‘suk san wan gert’ (สุขสันต์ วันเกิด).
The ‘wan gert’ (วันเกิด) part means birthday in Thai, with ‘gert’ (เกิด) meaning to be born and ‘wan’ (วัน) - if you remember the names of days in Thai - meaning day. The ‘suk san’ (สุขสันต์) part of the phrase is a bit more interesting, as it comes from Sanskrit. The word ‘suk’ (สุข) means something along the lines of happy, while the word ‘san’ (สันต์) means peace, and so together they mean blissful or merry.
As you can imagine, there are many different ways to give someone well-wishes, such as wishing them happiness, wealth or love. You can take the phrase ‘kor hai’ (ขอให้), which means ‘I wish’ or ‘please bring’, and add a different word on the end depending on what you want to say. For example, adding 'kwam suk' (ความสุข), which means 'happiness', would be very welcome. These make for more interesting ways to say happy birthday in Thai, so they are worth saying or, if you know the Thai characters, writing in a birthday card.
When experiencing another culture, I always find it interesting to see the little differences in everyday life and special occasions. In Thailand, they are not usually celebrated in the same way they are in the West. But that is not to say that they don’t follow some of the same traditions alongside their own.
Birthdays are big occasions for some people while it is not so important for others. Money sometimes plays a factor in that. However, there are some people who are just looking for another reason to party too so birthdays are great excuses for that.
There are plenty of opportunities to party in Thailand
For children, they would give out presents, eat cake and have a meal together as a family or with friends. Older Thais would go out for drinks. Interestingly, the custom in Thailand would be that the birthday person would pay for the drinks. This is the opposite of how it is done in the West where the guests would cover the costs.
So, as you can see, many elements of western celebrations have become normal in Thailand. Even the way they often say happy birthday in Thailand is taken from English. Despite this, the traditional way of celebrating birthdays in the country is still observed by many.
Looking at the more traditional birthday celebrations in Thailand, they do not involve the eating of birthday cakes, balloons or party games. Instead, it involves making merit at a temple, freeing animals such as birds and fish, and paying respects to parents by taking them out for a nice meal or calling them. The intention of these practices is to bring good karma to the next year.
Other activities involve giving food to the monks and possibly visiting family members. Some people may however choose not to do anything for their birthdays. After all, here are many different holidays in Thailand that people may focus on instead.
Religion runs deeply in the culture of Thailand, so people are likely to follow this custom and see it as the beginning of their birthday celebrations. That’s why, these days, it is common to mix together these traditional activities (which are usually done in the morning) and then later in the day have a party. Parents often follow this with their children but also mix in a party and cake too.
Now that you know more about birthdays in Thailand and how they are celebrated, you can be better prepared when you are next invited to one. Whether you just say happy birthday or you use the Thai phrase ‘suk san wan gert’ (สุขสันต์ วันเกิด), your friends will just be happy that you remembered. Maybe you should make a note of it on your calendar before you forget.
Now that you know how to say happy birthday in Thai, why not continue learning? If you are looking to improve your Thai skills, the Ling Thai app is perfect for you! With many different topics and tests to challenge your knowledge, you can learn new vocabulary and skills.