Sure, when you live abroad, your day to day life is challenging at first, but eventually it becomes part of your routine. You forget about the little things that make your daily life different than back at home. For me, the oh my gosh I live in a different culture are most apparent when it is time for celebrations.
Each culture has its own way of celebrating times in one's life. With my birthday coming up this Wednesday, I thought I would take the time to share with you some traditional Dutch birthday customs and how they drastically differ from the one's I grew up with.
Let's start with the overall attitude. Back home, being the birthday girl made you special. People would make you the breakfast you want, take you out to lunch and dinner. Heck some restaurants even give you a free meal or some cake. In the Netherlands, this is not the case. Being the birthday girl means that you invite people over to your house and make sure you are the perfect host. There is no taking it easy because you are the birthday girl. Oh and if you go out for drinks, guess who is picking up the tab for everyone? Yep, that would be you birthday girl. According to the Verlo, it is actually only the first round you are expected to buy, but still!
Although they are less popular with younger generations, Dutch circle parties are still the thing with older generations. During these parties, all the chair are arranged in a circle. When you enter, you must go around the circle and say, "gefeliciteerd met jouw (insert relationship that the person has to the person who is celebrating their birthday) verjaardag, for example gefeliciteerd met jouw dochter's verjaardag. This translates to congratulations with your daughter's birthday- which makes sense, as the parents are responsible for this day. What doesn't make sense is congratulations with your cousin's, boyfriend's, friend's or co-worker's birthday. Also, make sure you make it all the way around the circle.
The birthday person is also responsible for bringing their own cake into the office. Well actually, you bring your own vlaai. Which is can be either extremely pie like, or can be like a mix between a cake and a pie. I personally like the chocolatey ones.
Sometimes, I really miss the corner slices of a rose covered butter creamed grocery store cakes. Publix makes the best! I also miss going out for birthday dinners and taking it easy for the day.
Tell me, what are birthday's like for you? Oh and remind me sometime to tell you about birthday bathroom calendars!
Until next time!