How to Say Happy Birthday in Hawaiian: Informal and Formal Ways

Want to wish someone a happy birthday in Hawaiian? Whether you’re celebrating with a friend, family member, or colleague, knowing how to say happy birthday in their language can make the occasion even more special. In Hawaiian, there are both informal and formal ways to express birthday wishes, depending on the context and your relationship with the person. In this guide, we’ll explore various ways to say happy birthday in Hawaiian, providing you with tips, examples, and regional variations as relevant.

Informal Ways to Say Happy Birthday in Hawaiian

When it comes to casual or informal birthday greetings in Hawaiian, you can use the phrase “Hauʻoli Lā Hānau!” This phrase is widely used and recognized throughout the Hawaiian islands. “Hauʻoli” means happy, and “Lā Hānau” translates to birthday. Together, they convey the sentiment of a joyous day of birth.

Here’s an example of how you can use this informal phrase:

English: Happy birthday, Steve! Enjoy your special day!
Hawaiian: Hauʻoli Lā Hānau, Steve! E nanea anaʻoe i kou lā maikaʻi!

Remember to use the person’s name in the greeting to make it personal and meaningful.

Formal Ways to Say Happy Birthday in Hawaiian

In more formal settings, such as in professional or official settings, it’s customary to use slightly different phrases to say happy birthday in Hawaiian. One common formal expression is “Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e [name],” where [name] represents the person’s name.

Here’s an example of a formal birthday greeting:

English: Wishing you a very happy birthday, Ms. Johnson!
Hawaiian: Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e Ms. Johnson.

Using the person’s title with their name adds an extra touch of respect and formality.

Regional Variations

While the phrases mentioned above are widely understood and used across the Hawaiian islands, it’s worth noting that there can be slight regional variations. These variations may involve unique phrases or dialects specific to certain areas or communities. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Māori Influence: In some regions, you might come across the phrase “Whānau Ora” being used alongside or instead of “Hauʻoli Lā Hānau.” This is influenced by the Māori culture in New Zealand.
  • Pidgin English Influence: In certain informal contexts, you might hear someone use “Happy Birtdeh” as a variation of “Happy Birthday.” This is influenced by the local Hawaiian Pidgin English dialect.

It’s important to note that these regional variations are not commonly used in all contexts and may be limited to specific areas or communities within Hawaii.

Tips for Pronunciation

Pronouncing Hawaiian words can be a bit challenging if you’re not familiar with the language. Here are a few tips to help you accurately pronounce the birthday greetings:

  • Hauʻoli: Pronounced as “how-oh-lee.”
  • Lā Hānau: Pronounced as “lah hah-now.”
  • Nanea anaʻoe i kou lā maikaʻi: Pronounced as “nah-neh-ah ah-nah-oh-ee ee koh lah my-kai.”

Don’t worry if you don’t get the pronunciation perfect right away. People will appreciate your effort to learn their language and share in their birthday festivities.


Mastering the art of saying happy birthday in Hawaiian adds a special touch to any celebration or occasion. Whether you choose to go with the informal “Hauʻoli Lā Hānau” or the formal “Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e [name],” your heartfelt wishes will surely bring joy to the birthday celebrant. Remember to add a personal touch by including the person’s name, and don’t hesitate to explore regional variations if appropriate. Happy birthday, or as they say in Hawaiian, “Hauʻoli Lā Hānau!”

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