Tag Archives: Drinking Song


When talking to one of my brother’s good friends, who is from Manchester England, I asked if he had any songs that he knew of that he has learned from any of his friends or relatives.


He told me of a song that him and his friends always sing when they go out, “We like to drink with (insert name) because (name) is our mate! And when we drink with (name) he takes it down in 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”



Background Info: This song is some that Edward grew up hearing amongst people in England. When you call someone out and sing the song, they have to finish whatever drink is in their hand by the time the singers get to the end of the 8 second countdown. “It is something that is fun and gets you to finish more beer” –Edward.


Context: Edward told me about this song while I was at lunch with him and my brother.



Analysis: Once Edward told me about the song, he sang it but for me—it was a fun experience to say the least. Edward said that this is a very popular song in England, and is normally sang at universities at their get-togethers, next time I visit England I will be sure to ask people about this chant!



For similar write-ups, and some videos of other people singing this same song, see:







Shot of Akvavit and Swedish Song

Informant “J” is a 19 year male old college student at the University of Southern California, he is studying Neuroscience and is a Sophomore at the time of this interview. He was born in Danville, California to a Jewish father and as a result J has regular exposure to Jewish traditions and customs. Though he does involve himself with Jewish traditions, he does not practice Judaism and considers himself non-religious.


“J: So my… during Hanukkah dinners we’d always go over to my cousin’s house and during this time at the end of the dinner during desert, my… uh… my aunt’s dad, was… uh… Swedish, he was from Sweden and he had this drink over there called Akvavit. It was this type of hard liquor, um, it was a yellowish kinda, it was a yellowish hard liquor, it was a little sweet. But basically at um… after every single meal that he had during Hanukkah at desert time we’d all have a shot, even the little kids, even my cousin who are like 10 and 8 would have a shot of this.

Me: Uh huh.

J: Beacuse it was kind of this tradition that they had afterwards, you would sing a song, we’d try to sing a long as well but it was… it.. uh… we didn’t really understand what he was saying and after that we’d all take a shot and basically what he said was just kind of this old song that meant .. like.. good tiding, like long live the next night and the holidays and meet with your family.

Me: Is this a Swedish or a Jewish song?

J: Uh, that was actually a Swedish song so it was um, it was, he sung it in Swedish because although we were all Jewish he kinda just brought his own little culture into it and it was kind of a way to celebrate it but also do it during a sort of special Jewish holiday. ”


Analysis: The partaking of drinking of the whole family during a holiday is very common as a sort of relaxing of cultural customs during holidays, as is seen with things like the New Year’s Kiss or kissing under the mistletoe during Christmas. The fusion of Swedish tradition with a Jewish context, as well as a partaking of the whole family, shows an overall acceptance of J’s aunt’s father’s Swedish traditions, and an acceptance of this fusion as a sign of mutual respect.

The drink of choice, Akvavit, was explain by J as being fairly popular in Sweden. It appears that Sweden is the largest producer of the drink and the name is latin for ‘water of life’. It is made from distilled potato or grains (“aquavit”, Encyclopædia Britannica ).

The song sung afterwards is a classic example of a drinking song, which usually following directly after or before a drink. The song itself is unknown.

Work Cited

“aquavit”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015


“Danish Birthday Song”

            The informant’s maternal ancestry hails from Denmark, and although she has never lived in Denmark she has visited the country several times for extended periods and has maintained a strong Danish cultural presence in her lifestyle, especially around the holidays. For example, she strings up miniature Danish flags around her Christmas tree each year and makes æbleskiver, traditional Danish pancakes in the shape of little round balls, Christmas morning. Furthermore, one of her most treasured family heirlooms is a set of silverware engraved with the family crest as well as an ornate “N” for Nielsen, her mother’s maiden name, and a recognizably Danish one at that. She also sings a Danish song when celebrating family birthdays, and she shared the lyrics as well as the role the song has played in her own life. As a child, she remembered learning the song as a birthday song, but as she grew older she learned the song’s first line comes from a Danish drinking song, perhaps one that was sung in celebration. As the informant sang the song, she was sitting in her dining room table drinking coffee out of a china tea set her mother brought from Denmark.


            The first part “han skal leve”. . .I’m not positive about what it means but I believe it’s loosely translated as “may he live” or “may he live well.” The “hurra!” is the Danish way to say “hooray!” and I never understood what the ” højt” was for. I just know everyone said “højt quite loudly (she laughs heartily).
When we are celebrating a female’s birthday, the “bravo” verse is changed to “brava” and we say “bravissima” instead of “bravissimo.”

 Han skal leve, han skal leve, han skal leve, højt hurra!
Bravo, bravo, bravo bravissimo
Bravo, bravo, bravissimo
Bravo bravissimo, bravo bravissimo
Bravo, bravo, bravissimo.


            The informant’s close ties with her Danish roots are quite evident; Danish traditions and practices have seeped into several different aspects of her life. The confusion as to whether the song was originally sung in birthday celebration or while drinking seems typical for a family practice that has been passed down through generations―it can become increasingly difficult to discern when and why a song was first introduced into the family. In all likelihood, the song served both purposes. After all, it is quite common to pair drinking with a birthday party or celebration, and it was perhaps only because of her young age that she first associated the song exclusively with birthdays.

            The “may he live well” translation bestows good fortune or good health, though perhaps both―the interpretation of “well” is ambiguous―on the celebrating individual, which is not atypical for birthday celebrations across most cultures. However, the informant’s Danish family allows the party guests to seize an opportunity for good luck as well. She and her family prepare a layered Danish cake, inside which are hidden dimes, and anyone who bites or finds a dime while eating their cake is granted good luck for the week. This practice shifts focus from solely the celebrating individual to the party-goers as well; it is a more collectively engaging and participatory experience.