Birthday parties are a non-event for adult Greeks, as name days are far more important. For children however, birthday parties are imperative, which is of course as it should be. When I was a child, I would invite 5 to 10 friends to my house, and lots of games would be played. In today’s world everything is getting bigger and every event has to be more special than the last one. Enter the world of Greek birthday parties for children…
5 to 10 children are far too small of a crowd. I would guess that 20 to 30 children would be invited on average. One of the parents will always stay for the duration of the party. Sometimes, both parents come, and more adults than children are present. Lots of food is provided – children only eat that much, but the parents need to occupy themselves with something. They will usually arrive, sit down, drink coffee and chat. The children will be left to themselves – it is quite normal that either a professional entertainer/clown will be hired, or that the whole party will be hosted at a professional theme park. If the event is taking place at home, it is standard that all food is homemade; alternatively a caterer can be hired.
Presents given to the birthday child are never just small things. Only two formulas seem to work:
1. The bigger the size, the better – a good example is a basketball hoop.
2. The higher the quality, the better – often expensive brands of clothes are given as a present.
It goes without saying that a lot of money is spent for the presents. 30 to 50 Euros is quite common, and there does only seem to be a set minimum amount.
Our 4 children bring home so many birthday invitations from classmates and friends that we could literally attend at least one party every single weekend of the year. For the last years we had streamlined our own children parties: Instead of hosting 4 separate birthday parties, we organised one big event for all our kids on one day, typically just after the summer break. Close to 100 children would come, plus of course 100 adults. We have lots of outside space, which makes this possible. We also hired a professional entertainment company to occupy the kids. But instead of home cooked food, I would collect 40 Jumbo size pizzas from Dominos or Pizza Hut. This is the one kind of food kids and adults seem to be fighting over at the same time. This is of course not up to the normal standard, but then again our family is half Greek, half German. And one thing the Germans are not bad at, is efficiency…
One nice side effect from having just one mega event for all of our children was that we ended up each time with so many presents, that we could distribute some of them as additional Christmas presents for our lot. Greeks can be quite pragmatic at times, and I give my wife full credit for this.
I like the way Greeks take every opportunity to socialise. It is one of the reasons life in Greece is never dull. If you want to meet people, you don’t need to make an extra effort, it simply happens naturally.