The never-ending Mexican birthday song

There are all kinds of prejudices and stereotypes. But I’ve got to tell you: In case of Mexican birthdays, often clichés are true! They know how to fiestaTequila, piñatas and a lot of cake. Music, karaoke and dance. It’s all included. But what suprised me most when I first got here was the traditional Mexican birthday song: Las mañanitas. Never had I witnessed a birthday song of about 3-4 minutes. A typical Dutch birthday song lasts about… 30 seconds (Lang zal hij/zij leven, for example) – yes, I just sang that out loud and timed it!

I have to be honest with you and tell you that the Mexican mañanitas aren’t always fully sung. Often people go halfway, which always causes funny situations. Some family members want to finish it, and others look hungry at the pastel de cumpleaños (the cake).

There are various versions of las mañanitas, so I’ll choose the one that I have heard a lot (Las mañanitas del rey David). The translation, if possible to culturally and linguistically translate all, is written below. I also included my first reactions to the meaning of the song:


Estas son las mañanitas que cantaba el rey David.
These are the dawns that King David sang about.
King David?! I never saw him before on Dutch birthdays…

Hoy por ser día de tu santo te las cantamos aquí.
We are singing here because today is your saint’s day.
That’s sweet.

Despierta mi bien despierta, mira que ya amaneció.
Wake up my dear, wake up, see what dawn has brought/look the dawn has broken.
What did dawn bring? Presents please – but I didn’t see anyone with a present standing behind the birthday boy/girl. They were just waiting for him/her to blow out the candles and push their face in the cake. Or in case of translation ‘look the dawn has broken’: Yes, it’s time to wake up!

Ya los pajaritos cantan, la luna ya se metió.
The birds are singing, the moon has set.
The birds are singing? Every time I eat birthday cake and sing this song, it’s about 9 or 10 o’clock in the evening.

Qué linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte.
How beautiful is this morning on which I come to greet you.
Again – it’s 10PM.

Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte.
We come with happiness and pleasure to congratulate you.
I love this sentence. It’s so sweet.

A Mexican 'trio' on one of my birthday parties in Mexico
A Mexican ‘trio’ on one of my birthday parties in Mexico

El día en que tú naciste, nacieron todas las flores.
All flowers were born on the day that you were born.
“I know, I know” (just kidding) What! This is just too romantic.

Ya viene amaneciendo ya la luz del día nos dió.
Dawn is arriving and the light of day is upon us.
It’s 10PM guys (and yes, I know that this song traditionally should be dedicated to the birthday boy/girl in the morning!)

Levantarte de la mañana, mira que ya amaneció.
Rise up this morning and see what dawn has brought/look the dawn has broken.
What is it? Presents? (this is a Dutch perspective, please don’t judge me) Or: Just wake up 🙂

Y en la pila del bautismo cantaron los ruiseñores.
The nightingales sing at your baptismal fountain.
The what? Wait, what?

Ya viene amaneciendo ya la luz del día nos dió.
Dawn is arriving and the light of day is upon us.
It’s 10PM…

Levantarte de la mañana, mira que ya amaneció.
Rise up this morning and see that dawn has come.
It’s… OK I give up.

THIS IS THE POINT WHERE MANY PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHETER TO CONTINUE OR TO ATTACK THE BIRTHDAY CAKE

For those who decide to continue:

Volaron 7 palomas por toditas la ciudades.
Seven doves flew to all the cities.
Wow, to all of them? For MY birthday? But hey, when I was born, flowers were born too!

Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te deseamos felicidades.
Because today is your saint’s day, we wish you happiness.
Sweet!

Ya viene amaneciendo ya la luz del día nos dió.
Dawn is arriving and the light of day is upon us.

Levantarte de la mañana, mira que ya amaneció.
Rise up this morning and see that dawn has come.

Despierta … despierta, paso el tiempo de dormir.
Wake up …(name of the person) wake up, the time to sleep has passed.
The birthday boy/girl is already awake! He/she is waiting for the cake guys!

Ya los gallos muy contentos cantaron kikiriki.
And the satisfied roosters sing ki kiri ki.
How much longer is this going to last…

Ya viene amaneciendo ya la luz del día nos dió.
Dawn is arriving and the light of day is upon us.

Levantarte de la mañana, mira que ya amaneció.
Rise up this morning and see that dawn has come.


There are three more verses, but I’ll leave you to that. If you want to have a more vivid experience or if you want to practice the song to impress everyone at your next Mexican fiesta de birthday, go ahead and click here to go to a YouTube video that shows the song sang by Javier Solis, considered one of the greatest singers of Mexico ever (as said by one of Ahorita YA’s followers – muchas gracias). Keep in mind that there are various ways to sing the song, this is just an example!

And be aware! In case you’re the birthday boy/girl, the singing is over, you blew out the candles and you hear ‘mordida, mordida‘ from behind you, you’ll probably be pushed into the cake. Face first! I warned you.

What are your Mexican birthday experiences? Let me know!

Me hitting the piñata
Me hitting the piñata

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© 2016 by Debbie Vorachen – AHORITA YA. All Rights Reserved.
Photos © 2016 by Debbie Vorachen – AHORITA YA. All Rights Reserved.

 

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7 thoughts on “The never-ending Mexican birthday song

    1. Haha! Ik vind ze heerlijk. Een echt goede Mexicaanse mariachi is van wereldkwaliteit 🙂 -maar die komen helaas niet op iedere willekeurige cumpleaños hihi. Saludos, Debbie

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  1. Thanks Debbie. On the You Tube link you provide, it is noteworthy to point out that it is sung by Javier Solis, considered one of the greatest singers of Mexico, ever. 🙂

    Looking forward to meeting. Sybil and I are planning to move to Pachuca next year, and eventually to CDMX.

    Saludos,

    Joel

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    1. Thank you for your comment Joel, I really appreciate your feedback. I look forward to meeting both of you as well. Good luck with all the necessary preparations for your move. Saludos desde México, Debbie

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