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Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Russian & More

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Did you know that there’s a Russian holiday called Крещение (Kreshcheniye), or “Baptism,” when everyone jumps into прорубь (prorub’), or an “ice hole” in just their underwear? This holiday is in January, so it might be -10°C or -20°C, or even -50°C outside. Russian people believe that it washes off their sins and improves health. This holiday salutes the end of Russian winter holidays, each of which contains even more peculiar traditions. (You thought you were just going to learn Happy Birthday in Russian, didn’t you?)

To feel confident in living in Russia and communicating with Russian people, it’s important to know these traditions, especially how people congratulate each other. So, let’s dig into the festive side of life and learn how to become a part of it while in Russia.

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Table of Contents

  1. Happy Holidays in Russian
  2. How to Say Happy Birthday in Russian
  3. How to Say Merry Christmas in Russian & A Happy New Year in Russian
  4. Russian Congratulations: Baby News & Pregnancy
  5. Happy Graduation in Russian
  6. Congratulations for a New Job or Promotion
  7. Russian Congratulations for Retirement
  8. Russian Congratulations: Weddings & Anniversaries
  9. Death and Funerals: Russian Condolence Messages
  10. Bad News
  11. Injured or Sick
  12. Other Holidays and Life Events
  13. Conclusion

1. Happy Holidays in Russian

Basic Questions

No matter what holiday or life event you’re observing, you can always say “I congratulate you,” and most of the time, this is enough. In Russian, it can be said with just one word: Поздравляю! (Pozdravlyayu!). If you’re representing a group of people—or just somebody other than yourself—change the word into Поздравляем! (Pozdravlyayem!).

Make sure to use it instead of the full congratulation when it’s obvious what you’re congratulating someone on. For example, in social networks, when a lot of people are posting congratulations for a birthday or New Year, posting Поздравляю! (Pozdravlyayu!) will be enough; it’s obvious what you’re celebrating.

If it’s not obvious enough, be ready for the person to ask you: С чем? (S chem?), meaning “With what?”

You might also be wondering about greetings and best wishes in Russian. As for greetings, there’s a big article prepared by RussianPod101 for you. As for best wishes, there’s a nice way to say that: Всего наилучшего! (Vsyego nailuchshego!), which simply means “Best wishes!”

2. How to Say Happy Birthday in Russian

Happy Birthday

Birthdays in Russia are very important. Many people take the day off from work and go on vacation; most people wait until the nearest weekend to gather all their friends and close relatives for a party. Birthday gifts to friends are usually more expensive compared to gifts for the New Year. If you’re wondering what kind of gifts would be most appropriate, here are a few examples for you:

  • Chocolate and a cute souvenir to a coworker
  • A book, a box of nice candies, and a flower to a girlfriend
  • A bottle of expensive alcohol to your boss (just make sure that he actually drinks alcohol beforehand)
  • Two tickets to a theatre/reality quest/concert for your friend (ask in advance if that evening or day is free)

The closer your relationship is, the more expensive the present becomes. For example, a wife or girlfriend can congratulate her husband or boyfriend with an expensive watch.

Now, how do you wish someone a happy birthday in Russian?

1- С днём рождения!

  • Romanization: S dnyom rozhdeniya!
  • English Translation: “Happy Birthday!”

This is a basic congratulation that will sound great both for formal and informal situations, in speaking and in writing. To make it sound more solemn, you can say Поздравляю с днём рождения! (Pozdravlyayu s dnyom rozhdeniya!), which means “I congratulate you on your birthday!”

Besides the main congratulatory phrase, you can also add some wishes. For example, Всего самого наилучшего! (Vsyego samogo nailuchshego!), which means “All the best” in Russian.

2- С прошедшим!

  • Romanization: S proshedshim!
  • English Translation: “Belated Happy Birthday!”

If you just found out that someone had a birthday during the last week, it would be great to congratulate him even though you’re a little late. The Russian phrase for congratulations С прошедшим! (S proshedshim!), meaning “Belated Happy Birthday!” in Russian, sounds great in informal situations. For formal situations, make it longer: С прошедшим днём рождения! (S proshedshim dnyom rozhdeniya!), or “Belated Happy Birthday!”

3- Ещё раз с днём рождения!

  • Romanization: Yeshchyo raz s dnyom rozhdeniya!
  • English Translation: “Once again Happy Birthday!”

Usually, Russian people enjoy making congratulations more personal by wishing a lot of different blessings. At the end of such a congratulation, they sum it up by saying Ещё раз с днём рождения! (Yeschyo raz s dnyom rozhdeniya!), which means “Once again Happy Birthday!” in Russian.

These are the most basic birthday congratulations in Russian. If you’re texting it to your friends, you might need text slang modifications to sound more natural. For that, check out our article on Russian Internet slang. Also, we’ve prepared special podcasts on how to ask “When is your birthday?” in Russian and how to make a post on social network about your own birthday.

3. How to Say Merry Christmas in Russian & A Happy New Year in Russian

New Year.

The New Year in Russia is the biggest and longest holiday. Official holidays last from seven to ten days. People spend time with their families and friends, travel, and enjoy winter sports.

Christmas in Russia is celebrated after the New Year, on January 7 according to the Gregorian calendar. It’s a smaller holiday compared to New Year, and is mostly celebrated by religious people.

Let’s see how to say Merry Christmas in Russian and look at some Russian New Year congratulations!

1- С наступающим!

  • Romanization: S nastupayushchim!
  • English Translation: “With the upcoming New Year!”

So, how do you say “Happy New Year” in Russian? First of all, there’s a very common phrase to congratulate people with before New Year, such as colleagues or friends that you won’t be able to see during the holidays. It’s С наступающим! (S nastupayushchim!), which means “With the upcoming New Year!” This is one of the most popular New Year wishes in Russian for before the New Year holidays.

    An interesting fact. One of the meanings of the word наступать (nastupat’) is “to step on (someone’s foot).” That’s why there’s a pretty cheesy Russian joke when a person intentionally steps on your foot and says С наступающим! (S nastupayushchim!), or “With the upcoming New Year!”

2- C новым годом!

  • Romanization: S novym godom!
  • English Translation: “Happy New Year!”

After the Kremlin clock has tolled twelve times and a new year has begun, you can change your congratulatory words from С наступающим! (S nastupayushchim!), or “With the upcoming New Year!”, to C новым годом! (S novym godom!). That is how to say “Happy New Year!” in Russian. Though literally, it means “With New Year!” You can also say, more solemnly, Поздравляю с новым годом! (Pozdravlyayu s novym godom!), which means “I congratulate you with a happy New Year!” in Russian.

Some older people love to say C новым годом, с новым счастьем! (S novym godom, s novym schast’yem!), which means “With New Year, with new happiness!” That’s one of the old New Year wishes in Russian and may sound a bit cliche.

After saying this phrase, you can add some New Year wishes in Russian. For example: Я желаю тебе здоровья, счастья и удачи в новом году (Ya zhelayu tebe zdorov’ya, schast’ya i udachi v novom godu), meaning “I wish you health, happiness, and good luck in the new year.”

You can also add Всего самого наилучшего! (Vsyego samogo nailuchshego!), which means “All the best” in Russian.

3- C Рождеством!

  • Romanization: S Rozhdestvom!
  • English Translation: “Merry Christmas!”

In Russian, “Christmas” is Рождество (Rozhdestvo). So, here’s how to say Merry Christmas in Russian: C Рождеством! (S Rozhdestvom!). Don’t worry whether they’re religious or not; it’s still one of the traditional holidays.

To improve your listening skills on this topic, listen to our podcast “How Will You Spend New Year’s in Russia?”.

4. Russian Congratulations: Baby News & Pregnancy

Talking About Age

In Russia, baby showers aren’t really common. Usually, people celebrate and give presents to happy parents when the child is already born. So, there are no actual Russian baby shower traditions. If Russians put on a baby shower, they copy traditions from English-speaking countries.

1- Поздравляю с беременностью!

  • Romanization: Pozdravlyayu s beremennost’yu!
  • English Translation: “Congratulations on the pregnancy!”

This is a basic phrase that you can tell a woman when you see that she is pregnant. It’s more common to omit the word беременность (beremennost’), or “pregnancy,” and just say Поздравляю! (Pozdravlyayu!), meaning “Congratulations!”

2- Поздравляю с рождением ребёнка!

  • Romanization: Pozdravlayu s rozhdeniyem rebyonka!
  • English Translation: “Congratulations on the baby’s birth!”

This a formal congratulation suitable for writing (e.g. in a card or a message), or for a toast.

3- Поздравляю с рождением мальчика/девочки!

  • Romanization: Pozdravlayu s rozhdeniyem mal’chika/devochki!
  • English Translation: “Congratulations on the birth of the boy/girl!”

If you want to specify the gender and congratulate upon a gender, then this phrase will suit your needs the best. It’s great both for speaking and writing in formal and informal situations.

To learn the most common phrases to talk about a baby, watch our free educational video lesson.

5. Happy Graduation in Russian

Graduation.

Like everywhere in the world, graduation in Russia is an important occasion, especially if it’s graduation from a school or university. Learn how to give graduation congratulations in Russian to your friends or friends’ kids.

1- Поздравляю с окончанием школы!

  • Romanization: Pozdravlyayu s okonchaniyem shkoly!
  • English Translation: “Congratulations on (your) school graduation!”

This may sound a bit too official, though. If you want to sound more casual, omit the word Поздравляю (Pozdravlyayu), or “Congratulations.”

2- Поздравляю с окончанием университета!

  • Romanization: Pozdravlyayu s okonchaniyem universiteta!
  • English Translation: “Congratulations on (your) university graduation!”

Like with the previous congratulation, omitting Поздравляю (Pozdravlyayu), or “Congratulations,” will make the phrase sound more casual.

3- Добро пожаловать во взрослую жизнь!

  • Romanization: Dobro pozhalovat’ vo vzrosluyu zhizn’!
  • English Translation: “Welcome to an adult life!”

This phrase should come from someone older than the graduate himself. Usually, this congratulatory phrase comes from older relatives.

6. Congratulations for a New Job or Promotion

Promotion.

Promotions aren’t a very common cause for celebration or giving congratulations, but it will be considered very attentive and kind of you if you do congratulate your colleagues or friends on a promotion. Usually, promotions are celebrated by having a family dinner, so if you have a Russian spouse or parents-in-law, the following congratulations in Russian will be a great choice.

1- Поздравляю с новой работой!

  • Romanization: Pozdravlyayu s novoy rabotoy!
  • English Translation: “Congratulations on a new job!”

This is a general phrase that will sound good whether you’re saying it to your colleague—or wait, ex-colleague—or a friend. Don’t hesitate to use it.

2- Поздравляю с повышением!

  • Romanization: Pozdravlyayu s povysheniyem!
  • English Translation: “Congratulations on (your) promotion!”

This is another general phrase that can be used in any situation.

3- Успехов на новой работе!

  • Romanization: Uspekhov na novoy rabote!
  • English Translation: “Have success in your new job!”

This is an addition to the main congratulation. It sounds a bit formal, so it’s better to use it only for toasts or cards.

7. Russian Congratulations for Retirement

Usually, colleagues organize a big celebration when somebody retires. You can write the following congratulations in Russian on a card or just say them personally.

1- С выходом на пенсию!

  • Romanization: S vykhodom na pensiyu!
  • English Translation: “Congratulations on (your) retirement!”

This is a general congratulation that will sound great in both formal and informal situations.

2- Здоровья и долголетия!

  • Romanization: Zdorov’ya i dolgoletiya!
  • English Translation: “Have great health and a long life!”

This is a good addition to the previous congratulation. You can also use it for birthday congratulations in Russian if the person who’s birthday is being observed is up there in years.

3- Пусть ваша жизнь будет долгой, счастливой и наполненной самыми добрыми событиями!

  • Romanization: Pust’ vasha zhizn’ budet dolgoy, schastlivoy i napolnennoy samymi dobrymi sobytiyami!
  • English Translation: “Let your life be long, happy, and filled with the kindest occasions!”

This is a nice and long congratulations phrase suitable for a toast or a card.

8. Russian Congratulations: Weddings & Anniversaries

Marriage Proposal

Russian weddings are full of peculiar traditions. It would be a great experience if you could get to a real Russian wedding to see it with your own eyes. But first, let’s learn some expressions and congratulations that would be useful during a Russian wedding.

1- Совет да любовь!

  • Romanization: Sovet da lyubov’!
  • English Translation: “May you live happily!”

Literally, these words mean: “Advice and love!” The thing is that, in the past, the word совет (sovet) had another meaning, “friendship,” so basically this phrase is a wish of friendship and love between the newlyweds.

2- Поздравляю с днём вашей свадьбы! От всей души желаю семейного счастья, искреннего взаимопонимания, любви и благополучия!

  • Romanization: Pozdravlyayu s dnyom vashey svad’by! Ot vsey dushi zhelayu semeynogo schast’ya, iskrennego vzaimoponimaniya, lyubvi i blagopoluchiya!
  • English Translation: “I congratulate you on your wedding day! I wish your family happiness, true understanding, love, and prosperity.”

After you say this, you can also add: Всего самого наилучшего! (Vsyego samogo nailuchshego!), which means “All the best” in Russian.

Usually, Russians give a whole speech when congratulating a marriage. This is a short version of it that you can still use though. And to distract attention from how short it is, once you finish, shout the congratulation below. :)

3- Горько!

  • Romanization: Gor’ko!
  • English Translation: “Bitter!”

This is a famous phrase that you’ll hear at all Russian weddings. Guests love to finish their congratulations with it. After this word is pronounced, all other guests start chanting it. To stop it, newlyweds need to kiss—that is metaphorically sweet, so the guests don’t feel bitter anymore. :)

Also, listen to our special podcasts on how to give a wedding toast in Russian and what wedding gift to choose for a Russian couple.

9. Death and Funerals: Russian Condolence Messages

If you get invited to a Russian funeral, it’s good to know the most common phrases Russian people say regarding the deceased.

1- Пусть земля ему/ей будет пухом

  • Romanization: Pust’ zyemlya yemu/yey budyet pukhom.
  • English Translation: “May the earth rest lightly on him/her.”

This is a very famous phrase said during funerals. You can also address it directly to the deceased: Пусть земля тебе будет пухом (Pust’ zyemlya tyebye budyet pukhom), which means “May the earth rest lightly on you.” The etymology of this phrase is very interesting as it’s a translation from Latin: Sit tibi terra levis. It was first used in Roman times. Some historians believe that it was a curse to deceased people, but there is no definite proof for that hypothesis.

2- Помним, любим, скорбим

  • Romanization: Pomnim, lyubim, skorbim.
  • English Translation: “We remember, love, and mourn.”

This official phrase is great in writing. You can use it for a card.

3- Ты навсегда останешься в моей памяти

  • Romanization: Ty navsegda ostanesh’sya v moyey pamyati.
  • English Translation: “I will always remember you.”

This phrase sounds really sincere when you’re talking with a deceased person one last time.

10. Bad News

Bad situations can happen suddenly to anyone, and it’s good to know how to react when they do happen. Let’s learn the most-used condolences phrases in Russian.

1- Сочувствую

  • Romanization: Sochuvstvuyu.
  • English Translation: “I feel for you (for your feelings).”

This is a great phrase to show that you care about the person when something less serious than death happened. It’s great to use in all situations.

2- Сожалею об утрате

  • Romanization: Sozhaleyu ob utrate.
  • English Translation: “My condolences for your loss.”

This is a good phrase to express your condolences. Nowadays, it’s usually shortened to Я сожалею (Ya sozhaleyu), or “My condolences!”

3- Мои соболезнования

  • Romanization: Moi soboleznovaniya.
  • English Translation: “My condolences.”

This is an official phrase that will definitely fit any situation when you don’t know people well, or when you are talking with older people. It’s also great for a message or a letter.

11. Injured or Sick

Sick.

When Russian people know that someone is sick, they usually want to cheer that person up by saying one of the following phrases.

1- Поправляйся!

  • Romanization: Popravlyaysya!
  • English Translation: “Get better!”

This phrase is good for informal situations. It will make a great message to a friend.

2- Не болей!

  • Romanization: Nye boley!
  • English Translation: “Don’t be ill!”

This might sound weird, but Russian people actually say that to cheer someone up and show that they care. It’s also an informal phrase.

3- Скорее выздоравливай!

  • Romanization: Skoryeye vyzdoravlivay!
  • English Translation: “Recover faster!”

This phrase is more formal, but if you want to be very respectful, change it to Скорее выздоравливайте! (Skoreye vyzdoravlivaytye!), which also means “Recover faster!”

Sickness is an important topic in any language. If you want to dig deeper, start with our special podcasts on how to ask for medical assistance and what words and expressions to expect from a Russian doctor.

12. Other Holidays and Life Events

There are many other different national holidays and life events in Russia. Here are the biggest ones.

1- How to Say Happy Mother’s Day in Russian

Mother’s Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of November in Russia. It will be really considerate of you to congratulate women with children on this wonderful holiday. Here’s a common phrase:

  • С днём матери! (S dnyom materi!) — “Happy Mother’s Day!”

2- Defender of the Fatherland Day

This day is an official holiday in Russia, celebrated on February 23. Originally, it was a holiday for people who serve, or served, in the military forces, but modern people congratulate all men with it. Girls prepare surprises and give presents to all the men around them. Here is how you can congratulate men around you:

  • С 23 февраля! (S dvadtsat’ tret’im fevralya!) — “Congratulations on February 23!”
  • С днём Защитника Отечества! (S dnyom Zashchitnika Otechestva!) — “Happy Defender of the Fatherland Day!”

3- Happy International Women’s Day in Russian

A couple of weeks after the Defender of the Fatherland Day, International Women’s Day became a holiday for all women. It’s the men’s turn to prepare surprises and presents. Here are some common congratulations:

  • С 8 марта! (S Vos’mym marta!) — “Congratulations on May 8!”
  • С Международным женским днём! (S Mezhdunarodnym zhenskim dnyom!) — “Happy Women’s Day!”
  • С праздником весны! (S prazdnikom vesny!) — “Congratulations on the spring holiday!”

We’ve prepared a special educational video lesson about International Women’s Day in Russia. Have a look!

4- Happy Anniversary in Russian

It would be nice of you to remember your friends’ wedding anniversary and congratulate them, especially if you attended their wedding. The first wedding anniversary is a big day, and some people even celebrate it with some of their guests from the wedding.

Here’s how you could wish them a happy anniversary in Russian:

  • С годовщиной свадьбы! (S godovshchinoy svad’by) — “Happy wedding anniversary!”

5- Happy Valentine’s Day in Russian

Valentine’s Day became a pretty big holiday in Russia. So, it will be useful to learn the most popular phrases for how to say Happy Valentine’s Day in Russian:

  • С днём Святого Валентина! (S dnyom Svyatogo Valentina!) — “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
  • С днём всех влюблённых! (S dnyom vsekh vlyublyonnykh!) — “Congratulations on the day of all people who are in love!”

These phrases are great both for writing and speaking, and for formal and informal situations.

If you want to know more about Valentine’s Day in Russia, watch our free educational video lesson.

13. Conclusion

So, now you won’t be empty-handed in any life situation—you know how to say Merry Christmas in Russian, Happy New Year in Russian, Happy Birthday in Russian, and loads more. To learn more about national holidays in Russia, listen to our audio lesson.

If you feel excited about the Russian language, or simply need it for work or travel, consider participating in RussianPod101’s MyTeacher program for Russian learners. We have impressively experienced native Russian teachers who will explain all grammar points so that you can understand them easily. They can also help you enrich your vocabulary, overcome a language barrier, and, of course, make sure that you start talking with Russians in Russian in no time. Just try it. ;-)

And before you go, let us know in the comments which of these Russian life event messages you plan on trying out first, or if we missed any. We’d love to hear from you!

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