Happy birthday to you!
The Croatian people have so, so many songs!
In each region, such as Dalmacija, Slavonija, Zagreb, Zagorje, Lika, etc, the people sing their own local traditional songs. On top of that, there are many songs that are more or less national.
In Slavonija, the music has an obvious influence from Hercegovina, as well as some Turkish influence I think. It has a stirring and very strong beat to the rhythms. I will never forget the dance music at a wedding in Đakovo, near Osijek. Energy flowed strongly from the band to the dancers.
Many Dalmatian songs - at least, the older traditional ones – are love ballads. They are instantly recognisable by the simple melodies, smooth voices, and backing by mandolins.
I once commented to a Croatian friend that it seems that the men of Dalmatia only sing about either love for a girl, or love for the sea.
She replied: “True. The difference is that their love for the sea is unconditional!”
The amazing thing to me is that no matter where you are in Croatia, in what gathering of people, it seems that everybody knows all of the songs!
And they enjoy nothing more than singing along loudly together – regardless of whether the song demands to be sung with energy and gusto, or or with haunting empathy and feeling.
This, sadly, is not part of Australian culture.
To be in a group at a party in Croatia, or in a crowd at a football match, with everybody singing their heads off while I remain silent (but full of admiration), can be a lonely place.
So we should get to know some of the songs that Croatians sing on certain occasions, shouldn’t we? Of course we should.
Let's make a start, then. The simplest of all songs is the equivalent of “Happy birthday to you” – that is “Sretan rođendan ti.”
So you want to familiarize yourself with this song, in preparation for your next birthday party?
Well then, you can share my first introduction to it – with the help of two friends, Mateja and Svea, as we drove to Zagorje for a birthday party for Viktor.
Concentrate hard so that you might learn the words ….
That’s a start!
I think that the melody is the same for both versions - the English and the Croatian.
This learning (and life) experience was a bonus to the formal lessons that make up my online distance learning course with Mateja at SpeakCro - for which I am most grateful. And which provides great motivation to go to Zagreb next time I travel to Croatia to visit my rellies on otok Hvar.
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