The other day I saw someone on another website asking about this phrase and I realized I’ve never devoted a specific blog post to it, although it is mentioned at the end of this article about understanding time concepts in Romania.
BTW it is pronounced lah mooltz awn more or less.
I think that post covers it adequately, so here it is in its entirety with only a few minor modifications:
Folks, I’m ashamed to admit it took me about two years to figure out what the #!&*$ this phrase meant, so I’m hereby sparing you a lot of mental agony.
Literally it means “to many years” and is definitely some kind of salutation. I first heard about it when I received a New Year’s Card from a Romanian friend of mine with the expression la mulţi ani inside.
Okay, I figured it means “Happy New Year”, which made sense, with the word “year” in there and all.
Then I got to attend a lot of birthday parties in Romania and everyone would scream la mulţi ani. Well it isn’t New Year’s this time, but their way of saying “Happy Birthday”.
Then later I got to spend time around some married couples and when their wedding anniversary came up, people would all shout la mulţi ani as well.
In fact, I came to find out that la mulţi ani is not just an all purpose greeting but is also the title of several extremely traditional songs, including one usually used for birthdays. You can hear it here in its most common, speaker-warbling version (at minute 3:00 with awesome footage of a real wedding!) or here for the angelic choir version. Ahh… so gorgeous.
So there you go, it’s used for weddings as well. In fact, come to think of it, if it’s pretty much any kind of celebration or holiday, just say la mulţi ani and you’re covered!
I had to laugh the other day when a friend of mine remarked how weird it is to hear “many more years” wished to you on your birthday, when you’re already feeling old enough as it is :P