How to sing “Happy Birthday” in Nicaragua

Whenever someone who works at the CCBN (Cultural Center of Batahola Norte) has a birthday, a cake and big jug of juice, and perhaps a roast chicken is presented. My first time experiencing the celebration was when Sonia ushered all the staff and workers together to gather around the honored birthday-completer. Someone busted out a guitar, and just as I began to open my mouth to sing “Happy Birthday”, they all started singing a song I’d never heard before. “Darn!” I thought…another new thing to learn 🙂

Click on this link to hear a Croatian Mariachi band (of all things) that I found on YouTube singing the song. No one that I’ve heard in Nicaragua sings it quite like that, but this version is pretty!


It is a beautiful song, called “Las mañanitas” (= the little mornings), which I found out is actually a Mexican birthday song, but which Nicaraguans have obviously adopted. It is much more lyrical and poetic than our simple English song. In an effort to be able to fully participate in Nicaraguan culture, Sam helped me look up the lyrics.

Now, I must memorize all the verses, perhaps singing it as I doze off to sleep each night…

Las mañanitas

Estas son las mañanitas, que cantaba el Rey David,
Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te las cantamos a ti,
Despierta, mi bien*, despierta, mira que ya amaneció,
Ya los pajarillos cantan, la luna ya se metió.

Que linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte,
Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte,
Ya viene amaneciendo, ya la luz del día nos dio,
Levántate de mañana, mira que ya amaneció.


This is the morning song that King David sang
Because today is your saint’s day we’re singing it for you
Wake up, my dear*, wake up, look it is already dawn
The birds are already singing and the moon has set

How lovely is the morning in which I come to greet you
We all came with joy and pleasure to congratulate you
The morning is coming now, the sun is giving us its light
Get up in the morning, look it is already dawn

* Often replaced with the name of the person who is being celebrated

Additional verses!

El día en que tu naciste nacieron todas las flores
En la pila del bautismo, cantaron los ruiseñores

The day you were born all the flowers were born
On the baptismal font the nightingales sang

Quisiera ser solecito para entrar por tu ventana
y darte los buenos días acostadita en tu cama

I would like to be the sunshine to enter through your window
to wish you good morning while you’re lying in your bed

Quisiera ser un San Juan, quisiera ser un San Pedro
Para venirte a cantar con la música del cielo

I would like to be a Saint John I would like to be a Saint Peter
To sing to you with the music of heaven

De las estrellas del cielo tengo que bajarte dos
una para saludarte y otra para decirte adiós

Of the stars in the sky I have to lower two for you
One with which to greet you and the other to wish you goodbye

2 thoughts on “How to sing “Happy Birthday” in Nicaragua

  1. I heard the first verse (though not professionally done, as in the video) many times over the years that I lived in South Texas. I think it will grow on you, by the time you return to the States. Enjoy the new experiences and the relationships you are building while in Nicaragua.

    • That’s interesting that the song has such a far reach (although I guess if it is originally from Mexico, south Texas isn’t far at all)! I’m sure that I will learn it and become fond of it by the end of my time here in Nicaragua. And, if I ever travel to South Texas, I will have one cultural advantage under my belt 🙂

      thanks for reading!

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