Swedish Language Blog

“Ja må han/hon leva” the Swedish birthday song Posted by on Aug 21, 2013 in Culture, Living in Sweden, Swedish Language

Here comes a blogpost which can help you in your celebrating somebody’s birthday, in Swedish of course. Just a couple of phrases, a simple but very well known tune and the very repetitive lyrics to the Swedish birthday song. To help you get everything right there is a video at the bottom of the page so you know what things should sound like.

The Swedish birthday song is actually a very old one, the melody dating back the the 18 century when Mozart and Haydn’s tunes were known by most. That is why the song is actually very well known in Austria as well. Bellman, a man of disgrace during his lifetime but a well renowned poet after his death wrote the lyrics to the birthday song. The song was originally a drinking song and appeared in writing for the first time in 1914 in a students notebook. Almost 30 years later it had turned into a well known birthday song.

Phrases of congratulations:



Ha det äran, Grattis på födelsedagen!

Happy birthday!



Hur gammal är du nu?

How old are you now?

Ha en super/jättefin/bra dag!

Have a great day!

Ska vi skära tårtan nu?

Should we cut the cake now?

Öppna presenterna!

Open the presents!


birthday boy/girl

En kram till födelsedagsbarnet!

A hug to the birthday girl/boy!

Here are the lyrics of a couple of versions of the birthday song:

Ja, må han leva!

Ja, må hon leva!

Ja, må hon leva!

Ja, må hon leva uti hundrade år!

Javisst ska hon leva!

Javisst ska hon leva!

Javisst ska hon leva uti hundrade år!

Och när hon har levat

Och när hon har levat

Och när hon har levat uti hundrade år!

Ja, då ska hon skjutas.

Ja, då ska hon skjutas

Ja, då ska hon skjutas på en skottkärra fram!


If you want to see the lyrics to other versions, where people get hung, drowned and all sorts of other things click here.


To get the tune and text right watch the video clip 🙂


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  1. Erik:

    Hi! Thanks for sharing a link to my blog and the full lyrics to “Ja må hon leva”!

  2. Bregje:

    Hej, I just found your blog and since I’m learning Swedish it’s very useful! I like that you don’t just post boring grammar ;).

    Tack så mycket!

  3. Svante:

    Just a note.

    The lyrics from “Och när hon har levat” and below are not appreciated at finer occasions or in more bourgeois families.

    So to act in style you stop at the last “uti hundrade år!” 😉

    Grattis på födelsedagen! = Happy birthday!

    “Ha den äran” is showing extra courtesy. But it’s not the person that has a birthday that has the honor. It’s the one who congratulates. And the full sentence is “jag har den äran att gratulera”: http://www.sprakradet.se/16918
    The phrase is usually expressed when handing over a present.

    • Katja:

      @Svante Very good addition and comments to the post. Thank you very much! 🙂

  4. Riccardo:

    Just lovely. I’ve been in Sweden several times in the past nad I came to really love and appreciate both sverige and Suedes as well. A nice, warm and caring people….I used to speak some Swedish then but forgot it. Now I’d like to restart from the beginning !!

    Har det sa bra !

  5. Honey Bee XCIX:

    I think there are many different versions.

    The one I’ve heard is a slight variation on the one posted, less gender-specific, and considerably less imaginative.

    Länge må man leva!

    Ja må man leva i ett hundra(de) år.

    The version of the song posted here uses a very old meaning of the word “skjuta:” to carry or sling along, as in a “skottkärra,” or wheelbarrow, “skott” being the noun form of the verb “skjuta,” in other words, something that must be carried, or a load, or even a charge, or some other burden.

    When we think of the English cognate “shoot,” we think more of David slinging a stone at Goliath, or an arrow slung forth by the string of a bow, or a piece of leaden shot discharged more forcefully through a steel barrel by the deflagration of some type of chemical powder.