What is the origin of the addition to the Happy Birthday song (Parabéns pra você), which goes like this

É pique! É pique! É pique, é pique, é pique!
É hora! É hora! É hora, é hora, é hora!
[nome] [nome] [nome] ...

and what do "pique" and "ra-tim-bum" mean or stand for?

  • 3
    Ouço isso desde a minha infância e sempre me perguntei o que isso significa. Nunca soube o que é. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


All the references come from the same place, and are from about the 1930's.

"É pique, é pique..." is a reference to an university student named Ubirajara Martins, who always had with himself a little scissor to trim his beard and mustache. Because of the sound of the trimming, people greeted him as "pic-pic".

"É hora, é hora..." is a reference to some students who always went out drinking, but had to wait half an hour for the beer to get cold, on some ice bars. When the time came, they cheered "é meia hora, é hora", which translates as "it's half an hour, it's hour".

"Rá-tim-bum" is a reference to an indian guru (or something like this), named Timbum, who cativated the students with the sonority of his name.

Source and more details: «USP 70 — O Brasil que as arcadas vislumbraram», Pesquisa FAPESP 102, Agosto de 2004, p. 57.

  • 2
    I've seen other explanations saying rá-tim-bum is imitating the sound of musical instruments. (E.g. here.)
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 10:25
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    @IvoTerek in English, it's onomatopoeia.
    – ANeves
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 13:00
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    That link doesn't work anymore. In any case, this sounds more like a "just-so" story than a true origin. All 3 phrases already make some sense as simple references to the fact that one is at a birthday party where the cake will soon be cut and shared.
    – Dan Getz
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 13:51
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    The link didn't work anymore. I've linked to the original article.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 0:26
  • 1
    – Eduardo
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 1:16

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