Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Circle of Hell

If you have lived in The Netherlands for more than a few months you have probably either been to or heard of the dreaded circle party, known to the Dutch as a verjaardagsfeest (birthday party). It is also known as a circle party because you will sit in a giant circle around the room all afternoon. This giant circle is known as the circle of hell to many expats because you will sit in whatever chair you chose for the remainder of the party and are forced to talk to the two people on either side of you all afternoon or worse, there will be a group conversation (in Dutch). There are a few other interesting traditions at the parties, one being that when you arrive you will need to find the birthday person and say "Gefeliciteerd" (Congratulations). I am not sure why it is "congratulations" rather than "happy birthday"... I guess you are congratulating them on being born or making it another year?!? Once you have done this you must then walk around the circle and congratulate everyone else at the party as well. I am also not sure why you need to congratulate the neighbor/friend/relative of the birthday person, but you do! Another thing I find a bit odd is that the birthday person will prepare all of the food (including the cake) and will be constantly getting up to serve tea or cake while you as the guest just sit in your chair being waited on, otherwise you will be seen as rude. I don't imagine many Dutch have a relaxing birthday!

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