I bought it, you eat it - some birthday!

My partner celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago.

He starts work earlier than I do, so when I get out of bed in the morning he is usually already gone. But the morning of his birthday, he was still around when I woke up.

After reminding me to wish him a Happy Birthday (I’m a bit slow in the mornings), he told me, “I have to go to the bakery to buy cakes for my birthday.”

Wait a minute. I thought people were supposed to buy you a cake for your birthday?

Well, it turns out in Holland (and many other countries), it’s the other way around. When it’s your birthday, it’s your responsibility to bring the cake to the party. And if you work in an office, you are expected to bring a cake into work for your co-workers (and don’t try to hide your anniversary, because everyone knows when everyone’s birthdays are… they want to cash in on the cake.) If you work in a large office, you better bring more cakes – my partner bought four.

I’d like to know from my Dutch readers – does this “reverse birthday giving” also extend to other items? For example, are you expected to buy people drinks at your birthday party? And (God forbid) are you expected to buy your friends presents for your birthday? Because that would suck…


About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.
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One Response to Birthdays

  1. DutchCon says:

    🙂 Yes, the birthday boy (or girl) is supposed to organise the party, providing food, drinks and entertainment (well, that could be the dreaded Duch Circle of Death other expats fear).
    On the other hand, he will get presents…

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