Skip to content

Can we please skip the Happy Birthday song

The ancient embarrasing and awkward tradition belongs in the past

I had a birthday recently and I thought I had dodged the dreaded singing of the Happy Birthday song. I had a small gathering of family over and my mother-in-law baked a delicious cake.

We all had started eating it and I thought quietly to myself that I was going to get lucky and bypass the awkward tradition of the song. But alas, I was not so lucky as my brother-in-law started singing and everyone joined in. I

t is so incredibly embarrassing. You have to sit there for 20 to 30 seconds, not knowing where to look or what to do while everyone serenades you horribly. No one really likes singing it and no one really likes it being sung to … so why do we still do it?

Of course, everyone will say it is tradition. But I am believer in throwing away traditions that don’t serve anyone anymore.

The origins of the classic song go way back and are disputed. It was first published in 1893 in a book titled Song Stories for the Kindergarten. However it was then titled “Good Morning to All,” with the same melody we all know (and despise) today.

It is generally attributed to two sisters, Patty and Mildred J. Hill. While teaching at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School, Mildred composed the melody and Patty developed the lyrics.

I am pretty sure that I am not the only one to cringe at this song. I am sure there are some executives at Warner Music Group who also don’t love it after it cost them millions of dollars.

They had to pay $14 million to settle claims over “Happy Birthday to You,” after a judge ruled in 2015 that the company’s long-claimed copyright to the famous song was invalid. The judge declared “Happy Birthday” part of the public domain.

There are claims that singing the Happy Birthday song may actually make birthday cake taste better. Researchers from Harvard University and the University of Minnesota did a study and found that indulging in a ritual before eating heightens our enjoyment of the food and helps us savour it.

I am here to debunk this. I started eating my cake this year before the singing started and I can assure you that it tasted really good before the song, maybe even better as I thought I was also tasting the sweet victory over avoiding the tradition.

COVID killed blowing out candles on the cake and I am here to advocate for also skipping the song. We can have our cake and eat it too.

I can promise you I will still feel loved, blessed, honoured, or whatever, if you don’t sing that song to me once a year.

The only thing, in my opinion, this song is good for is remembering how long to wash your hands.

READ MORE: Here’s how to avoid the Zombie Apocalypse

Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
Read more