Offering good wishes and congratulations is an important part of interacting with those around us. Therefore, in this post, we learn how to wish people well and how to congratulate someone in Russian. We cover birthdays, holidays, and several other occasions. To further expand your Russian vocabulary, work with one of our expert tutors.
How to Say “Happy Birthday” in Russian
You can say “happy birthday” in Russian in several ways:
С днем рождения! (S dnyom rozhdeniya!) – Happy birthday! In this example, “день рождения” (den’ rozhdeniya) means “the day of birth.”
Поздравляю тебя/Вас с днем рождения! (Pozdravlyaiu tebya/Vas s dnyom rozhdeniya!) – I congratulate you on your day of birth! Note that we use “Вас” (Vas – you) in formal situations with people we don’t know well or with older people.
The typical answer is “спасибо” (spasibo – thanks) or “большое спасибо” (bol’shoe spasibo – thank you very much).
How to Wish Someone Happy Holidays in Russian
To wish someone a happy New Year, we say,
С новым годом! (S Novym godom!) – Happy New Year!
You can add the word “поздравляю” (pozdravlyaiu – congratulations) as well:
Поздравляю тебя/Вас с Новым годом! (Pozdravlyaiu tebya/Vas s Novym godom!) – I wish you a happy New Year!
To wish someone merry Christmas, we say
С рождеством! (Srozhdestvom!)
Счастливого рождества! (Schastlivogo rozhdestva!)
Both have the same meaning: “Merry Christmas!”
In Russia, Christmas comes after New Year, with people celebrating it on January 7, and it is not as important a holiday as New Year.
How to Congratulate People in Russian for Other Reasons
You can congratulate someone having a wedding anniversary by saying
С годовщиной свадьбы! (S godovshchinoi svad’by!) – Happy wedding anniversary!
If someone has just become a parent, say
С рождением дочери! (S rozhdeniem docheri!) – Congratulations on the birth of you daughter!
С рождением сына! (S rozhdeniem syna!) – Congratulations on the birth of you son!
Поздравляю Вас с рождением ребенка. (Pozdravlyaiu Vas s rozhdeniem rebyonka!) – Congratulations on the birth of you baby!
If your colleague has been promoted, congratulate him by saying
С повышением! (S povysheniem!) – Congratulations on the promotion.
Поздравляю Вас с повышением. (Pozdravlyaiu Vas s povysheniem.) – Congratulations on the promotion.
As you can see, in most cases Russians omit the word “поздравляю” (pozdravlyaiu – congratulate) and simply say the rest of the sentence.
Sharing Good Wishes in Russian
If you ever visit a Russian banya, you might hear
С легким паром! (S lyogkim parom!) – Enjoy your steam!
Passing an exam is always stressful, that’s why students usually tell each other before an exam,
Ни пуха ни пера! (Ni pukha ni pera) – Break a leg!
This is a traditional phrase that came from hunters who were afraid to wish each other luck. Instead, they would say, “Not a bit of down, nor a single feather,” hoping that evil spirits would hear that and not interfere with their hunting.
The traditional reply to being wished luck is “К черту!” (K chyorty). The literal translation is “Go to hell,” but it means “thank you.”
To wish someone luck, say “Удачи” (Udachi), which simply means “Good luck.”
Try to remember some of these expressions and use them whenever the situation demands it. To learn more about Russian language and vocabulary, learn the Russian language from home with a native speaker.