life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, February 18, 2011

family traditions

It was always a tradition in our family ...

You'd put candles on the birthday cake, dim the lights and sing


Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday, dear [celebrant's name],
Happy Birthday to you!

The celebrant would make a wish and blow out the candles.

We'd turn on the lights, take the candles off the cake...and then do our own special thing.  Each person would be handed one of the candles from the cake, we'd light the candles again and dim the lights.  We'd sing our own special birthday song.  As we sang, each person in the room would blow out his or her own candle, so at the end of the song the only candle that would remain lit would be the one held by the celebrant.  He or she would blow out the remaining candle after the song ended.

Our special song was sung to the tune of "The Merry Widow Waltz".  We never knew where the lyrics came from, I think we assumed someone in our family put words to the music.

The words we sang were:

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday,
Just for you!
Happy birthday and may all your dreams come true.
As we blow out the candles one light stands aglow.
It's the sunshine of your smile where'ere you go.

I grew up thinking that this was our special song, that no one else in the entire world knew this song. And then one day, when my children were little, we went to a birthday party.  the hostess put on a "Barney the Dinosaur" birthday album...and there was Barney, singing "our" birthday song!

Well, the words were slightly different, but nevertheless...

Turns out several artists have recorded this song on children's albums.  Including one of my favorites, Tom Chapin:


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