Birthday Party – Fiesta de Cumpleaños
Posted August 28, 2010on:
Last night we went to a birthday party for Luis’ sister. Well, as Luis kept telling me it wasn’t una fiesta (party) it was una reunion (gathering or get together). Whatever you want to call it, there are some differences here in how birthdays are celebrated.
Like with weddings, things get started rather late. The party, I mean gathering, was at Luis’ parent’s house where Kelly (his sister) and her husband live on the second floor. The guests, Kelly’s friends, started arriving about 9:00pm.
Everyone was seated around the living room drinking Gran Borgoña, a type of sweet wine that is produced here in Peru, and eating piqueos (appetizers). Music was playing and people were chatting. As time went on and more wine was consumed the conversations became louder, along with the music. Eventually, a few people started to dance. Dancing at home during social gatherings is very common here. It is a big part of the culture.
Eventually, at midnight dinner was served. We ate pollo a la brasa (roasted chicken), arroz a la jardin (rice with little bits of carrots, corn and peas) and ensalada (salad). Something I have noticed here is that people often don’t use knives when they eat, just forks. For me, this makes things, like a chicken breast, somewhat difficult to eat… especially with my plate on my lap instead on a table. People here are used to it and have developed refined skills in eating without a knife. I need more practice!
After eating a round of Pisco Sours was served and finally the cake arrived! As in Canada, the tradition is to light the candles on the cake, dim the lights and sing happy birthday to the birthday person. Interestingly, they always start by singing Happy Birthday in English (even if a person doesn’t speak English they seem to know the words to Happy Birthday) followed by a version in Spanish. The Spanish version is to the same tune and goes like this…
Feliz Cumpleaños a ti, Feliz Cumpleaños a ti, Feliz Cumpleaños (name of birthday person), Feliz Cumpleaños a ti.
Cumpleaños feliz, te deseamos a tí, Cumpleaños felices, te deseamos a tí
After the candles were blown out, the birthday girl gave a little speech thanking everyone for attending and sharing this special day with here. Then there was more drinking, chatting and dancing until about 3:30am when things finally wind down and people head home.
One other different thing is how gifts are handled. In Canada people normally open their presents with all the guests there so that everyone can see what the birthday person got and the birthday person can thank the guests for the gifts. Here presents never seem to get opened. For me it is kind of strange.