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The short history of “Happy Birthday to You”

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Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday Dear [someone],
Happy Birthday to you!

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If you live in the Western world chances are good that these words have been sung to you on your birthday and you have sung them to other people on their birthday. The “Happy Birthday Song” is one of the most famous melodies in the English-language. Although everyone knows the Happy Birthday Song, few people know the history behind it.

“Happy Birthday to You” dates back to the mid-1800s when two sisters named Patty and Mildred Hill wrote and sang a song called “Good Morning to All” for Patty’s kindergarten class. Patty taught children in Kentucky and every morning she would sing the song to her five year old students. The students loved the tune so much that the lyrics were adapted to fit special occasions. Most notably, whenever it was a class member’s birthday all the children and Patty would change the lyrics from “Good Morning to All” to “Happy Birthday to You.”

In 1893 the sisters officially published the “Good Morning to You” song in a songbook that they titled “Song Stories for the Kindergarten.” A songbook including the “Happy Birthday to You” lyrics was later released in 1912. Since then, the song’s popularity has grown and it is now sung to almost everyone in the English-speaking world on their birthday!

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