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Dutch Birthdays.

Every culture has their own quirky habits. To a newbie getting invited to a Dutch Birthday party might come as a bit of a shock. If you are invited to a Dutch birthday party, it usually means sitting in a big circle of chairs, drinking coffee and eating a piece of cake.  If you are lucky you might get to nibble on some cheese with gherkin on a stick or a ‘bitterbal’ with mustard. As guests arrive, they shake hands with everyone before sitting down. It is also customary to congratulate everybody, yes even the neighbour of your friend or the distant aunty you have never met. You shake hands and say:  “Gefeliciteerd”. (Congratulations) And then you sit down on an empty chair and make polite conversation with the person next to you about the weather.

 If it is your birthday at work, you are expected to take in cake for your colleagues. Some colleagues might sign a birthday card for you but don’t expect any presents.

A traditional 'Hema' Birthday cake, filled with lots of whipped cream. 'Slagroomtaart'

 

Childrens Birthdays.

If it is your child’s birthday and they are at a Dutch primary school, you will be expected to supply a ‘traktatie’ – a nice snack for every child in the class. The treats or snacks are usually decorated in a theme of the Birthday girl or boys choice. Some schools have strict ‘no sugar’ rules which means you have to come up with a healthy alternative.  In most schools the birthday child is also expected to bring a treat for all the teachers in the school. In the morning the child gets to choose 2 classmates to accompany him or her going by all the teachers in every class. All teachers sign a card and usually hand out a sticker. At snacktime, in the morning, the Birthday child gets to stand on a chair (the only time a year this is allowed) and the whole class sings an array of Birthday songs, yes, the Dutch have a whole repertoire for this occasion!

Birthday 'traktatie' Pirate theme.