I have just realized that my birthday is coming soon, still 14 days to make some plans.
It will be in the middle of the week, a Wednesday, and I was thinking of a little party with drinks and sandwiches. Of course I will invite good friends, neighbours and nice parents I know through my children. But on the coming Wednesday people are busy and nobody has time for me. Too bad! So how about celebrating the weekend after my birthday? But my friends have tournaments, exams, and other get-togethers. No chance.
Now, I have learned from the Dutch, that I could also schedule my birthday party even before the day of my birthday! I was happy that my invitations were accepted and most of my friends indeed had time to come. What a great way of solving the dilemma for me and the others with their full Dutch agendas.
Yet, at the party I felt a bit uneasy on receiving so many congratulations and kisses (exactly three). Every time someone congratulated and kissed me, I apologized that it wasn't really my birthday. Nobody seemed to care and I thought, well maybe this is my big chance to get more kisses and presents when it really is my birthday.
What I experienced as very typically Dutch was that my partner got kisses (which he enjoyed a lot) and congratulations as well. And most of the people in the room kissed and congratulated each other, sometimes even before congratulating me. My friends from abroad were not used to this impressive ceremony, which I have started to like a lot. Some people from other European countries told me that they never ever would celebrate their birthday early, and in my own country, Germany, you would never do that as it is said that it brings bad luck. Well, I did not feel any bad luck and if there was any, all the kisses compensated for it... Nevertheless, I am getting more fanatical about having a happy birthday and celebrating it on the actual day. I will try again next year!/Jutta Wirth, Cell Biology and Immunology Group