January is a month of birthdays in my family. It is party after party and as February is not much more quiet either we tendt to start the spring quite tired.
Let me tell you how Czechs celebrate a birthday.
The party time
Usually there is a party . (Even though some people prefer not to have one.)
One celebrates birthday with family first and then with friends.
Sometimes if the number of your age is round like 40 or 60 (we call that kind of birthday “kulatiny” = rounded) people tend to celebrate it in a big style and invite everyone-family and friends together-to a pub or other place that is enough big.
A typical czech party is usually about food and chat. On really big parties there is also music and dancing.
The food mainly consists of chlebíčky – open sandwiches, jednohubky-canapés, salads, cake and drinks (beer, wine and strong alcohol like rum or slivovice-plum brandy)
(I had to search for these words in a dictionary, I hope they fit.)
People often decorate their house for the party in merry colours.
You may also invite your friends to caffé for coffee and dessert instead of throwing a party.
Everyone gives gifts as it is usual in his family, cheaper or expensive, but they should be fitting for the person and make him or her happy. Some families make a fund for a bigger gift like a bike, computer or skis. We got a sewing machine like this with my boyfriend.
Gifts are wrapped in a decorative paper or foil. One can buy them in a stationery shop and wrap the gift on his own at home. People either love to do this or completely hate it. Those who gave up can always use a decorative paper bag, even though it shortens the unpacking time and the trill of opening the gift. On the other hand who would wish for his family to get mad because of paper.
Flowers are an important part of birthdays. One can get only a simple bouquet or one single rose from colleagues, boss or not close friends instead of a gift.
There are many kinds of bouquets one can buy and it is a pity many people still live in the comunistic era in their heads and buy only gerberas, roses or carafiats.
The florists are very skillful here and can make a bouquet for different occasions and different persons. I know because I had a course in floristics and also had lectures at the university about floristics. They can make you a bouquett for your wild, temperamental, stubborn boss and a different one for your nice and caring grandma that likes blue color and small cute bouquet for your little niece. Each will be different and beautiful.
Cheap, expensive and plants
The flowers are a part of the gift, so if you are going to give a cheaper gift and wonder what else to buy you can choose a more expensive flower.
Some people prefer to buy a plant as a gift, but one has to know the recipient of the gift does have green fingers and also if he has a place for such a gift.
Bottle for a guy
The title says it all, if you do not plan to buy bouquet made from meat (and you could) you should buy your male friend a bottle of a good alcohol. Of course there are many stylish bouquets for guys and also you can use a big exotic flower, but I think these are good for important ceremonies like Oscars.
On the other hand I do not want to be sexistic, there are men who like getting flowers…well check it out.
The central piece of the party banquet is the cake.
There is a tradition in our family to bring the cake in after the giving of gifts. The birthday person blows out the candles on the top to make a wish and cuts the first piece. Then the party is officialy started.
There are many recipes for a good cake, you may find them on the internet. Many mothers or grandmas make the cake at home. Someone buys it in a shop or has it prepared in the restaurant where the party is held.
Czech cakes are usually based on a cream or butter. The marzipan coating is in lately. Just like chocolate or sugar decorations for the top.
The birthday cards
One can get a birthday card two ways. Either someone writes to you and sends it through the post office, but I am not sure how often this happens with all the internet and mobiles. Or you can get the card together with your gift.
Children sometimes make birthday cards themselves, while older people usually buy them.
It is a nice way how to let the birthday person remember the party and enjoy it more.
People like to put the cards someplace where they can be admired by guests and family members.
There is a tradition to call to a radio station and order a special song to play for the birthday person. The radio stations count with this and host special programs for this. Sometimes you can talk on air alive, sometimes you can send an email or sms, which the reporter reads aloud for everyone to hear.
I suppose there are many other traditions in czech families around birthday time. I told you about the main ones. If I will find some others interesting ones I will let you know. Of course there is also the name day, which we celebrate each year as well and I will tell you about it in some of my next posts.