Informant: Valentina Williamson. 11 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City. My little sister.
Informant: “When the cake comes out at birthday parties everyone sings ‘Las Mañanitas.’ When the song is over, the person blows out the candle. After, we all chant ‘MORDIDA, MORDIDA! (BITE, BITE!) and push the person’s head into the cake!”
Collector: “Why do you push the persons head into the cake??”
Informant: “Because it’s funny! The face is covered in cake and we can’t stop laughing!
“Estas son las mañanitas
Que cantaba el rey David
Hoy por ser tu cumpleaños
Te las cantamos a ti!
Despierta, “Nombre”, despierta
Mira que ya amaneció!
Y los pajaritos cantan
Y la luna ya se metio! WOOOOOOO”
(Informant motions as if she pushes a head into the cake)
These are the dawns
That king David sang about
Today for being your birthday
We are singing to you!
Wake up, “NAME”, wake up
See that it already dawned
and the little birds are singing
and the moon has already set! WOOOOO”
Thoughts: It is really interesting that the birthday song in Mexico is much more romantic than the “Happy Birthday” song in the United States. In my opinion, this romanization is a direct reflection of the Mexican cultural values. I know that there are some slight variations from the version my sister gave me. Instead of “Hoy por ser tu cumpleaños (Today for being your birthday) some sing “Hoy por ser día de tu santo (Because today is your saint’s day).” The gesture of pushing someone’s head into the cake is something I did as a child too but no longer do it. Certainly, this only tends to happen at children’s parties.
For a full version of the song: “http://www.musica.com/letras.asp?letra=1180983”