Monthly Archives: May 2015

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Ilya Yefimovich Repin's painting, Barge Haulers on the Volga (1870-73).

The Birthday Dirge

What is “The Birthday Dirge”? “The Birthday Dirge” is sung to the tune of “The Volga Boatmen”. If you don’t know the tune by name, you know it by sound. It’s the depressing sounding Russian folk tune that nearly everyone has heard at one time or another. The resounding thud that follows each “Happy Birthday!” is traditionally accompanied by a “HUHN”-like grunt. The sort of groaning grunt that workers lifting heavy loads might find natural. What are the lyrics? The Dirge is known in various circles as “The Barbarian Birthday Song”, “The Viking Birthday Sang,” “The SCA Birthday Dirge,” etc. […]