Home » Uncategorized » Québec’s own “Happy Birthday” song – Part 1 of 4 (#319)

Québec’s own “Happy Birthday” song – Part 1 of 4 (#319)

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Did you know that Québec has its own birthday song which is very different than the English “Happy Birthday” song?

This is something which is generally unique to Québec, in the sense that Francophones outside Québec sing the old French version of the English “Happy Birthday” song.

There may be Francophone regions in Ontario and New Brunswick, close to Québec, which may also sing Québec’s version of the Birthday song, but from my experience, they seem to be exceptions to the rule (across the Prairies, Acadia, and other parts of Ontario, I’ve generally understood that it’s still the old song).

Québec’s birthday song is actually quite short and simple.

French

Mon cher _(insert name)  , C’est à ton tour
De te laisser parler d’amour
Mon cher _(insert name)  , C’est à ton tour
De te laisser parler d’amour

English translation

My dear _(insert name)  , it is your turn
To let yourselves talk about love
My dear _(insert name)  , it is your turn
To let yourselves talk about love

Who the heck is Laurent!?!?  Anyway, moving on….

Fast forward to 0:39 in the video below

In this next clip, you can NOT get any more Québécois than this! — Playing the Québec birthday song while a hockey match & a beer commercial is playing on the TV in the background!!

Contrast this with the French version of the English song (sung by Francophones outside Québec):

French translation

Bonne fête à toi,
Bonne fête à toi
Bonne fête
Bonne fête
Bonne fête à toi.

Original English version

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you

————————————————————–

Bonne fête or Bon anniversaire ??

In Canada & Québec, we can say both “Bon anniversaire” and “Bonne fête” to signify happy birthday.  In Europe, “Bon anniversaire” is usually the accepted form (with “Bonne fête” meaning “Happy holidays”)

The next three posts:

On the surface, this seems like a mundane post, but actually, there is quite a bit more to this story and tradition — a story which only dates back 40 years.   It’s a story known to many people in Québec, but perhaps is not known as well outside Québec.

Without getting too political, in the next few of posts I’ll cover the historic moment in 1975 behind the song.  I’ll also mix in a couple of mixed cultural & language learning exercises for those at an elementary and intermediate level (it might be an interesting way to improve your French listening skills, as well as to learn a bit more about some iconic parts of Québec’s culture).

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