Who would have thought that within a year of my first post I would be celebrating my 100th post? Not me, for sure. In honor of this special event, I thought today I would write about how Swiss celebrate. It’s usually, on weddings and birthdays; round, not so round, even and odd birthdays.
Naturally, weddings are a great time to celebrate. The Swiss wedding is a bit different than American weddings, oftentimes a bit more creative. The American wedding tends to go for quantity; inviting many, many people is the rule. This includes family, friends, friends from the university, people you work with and the checkout girl at the grocery store. Only kidding about the checkout girl. There is a big meal, lots of drinks, a band, dancing and an abundance of toasts. The maid of honor and best man are in charge of organizing a bridal shower and a bachelor party. I don’t believe they have any other real duties than that and to show up for the wedding.
The Swiss wedding is much smaller in size and concentrates more on quality, with lots of fun things to do. There is usually an appetizer that everyone is invited to partake in directly after the church wedding. As if the bride and groom are saying “Sorry we couldn’t invite everyone to the real party!” Usually only family and close friends are invited to the dinner and festivities. These are often organized by the “maid of honor” and “best man”. Actually there is neither a maid of honor nor a best man at Swiss church weddings. These two people are solely in charge of activities like shows, newspaper, contests, the band and things like that. All of the things that are planned are usually kept secret from the bride and groom.
As far as costs go, both the American and Swiss wedding celebrations cost a great deal. The larger the budget, all the more is possible.
Relatively Normal Birthdays
A friend of ours rented an entire restaurant and invited as many people that could fit in there. We had a fabulous dinner and after dinner they had set up a lot of activities that you could do. Everything had to do with the “birthday boy’s” life. Sort of a “This is your life”, but organized and sponsored by the birthday boy.
Then, there are the surprise birthday parties. One surprise party that we attended was in a small hut in the woods. Ben and I prepared a sketch similar to a Basel Fasnacht presentation. That is where one or more people sing a text and illustrating each verse is a drawing. The drawings are presented on a flipchart. During the Fasnacht the people presenting the sketch are dressed in Fasnacht-style costumes wearing a papier-mâché mask. Ben wrote and presented the texts (without a mask or dressing up) and I did the drawings on the flipchart.
There are always birthday parties that are somewhat different than most. A friend of ours rented a planetarium and invited lots and lots of friends. First they served appetizers in a restaurant where everyone was gathered. After all the guests arrived everyone went into the planetarium and he gave a two hour show. The man knows his planets and stars, it was delightful and informative.
Another friend combined his 50th birthday with the début of his first book. He organized this birthday dinner/event in a barn, complete with bales of hay as tables. Of course, because it was a crime fiction book we were given clues and had to solve a crime mystery.
Depending on your budget and possibly who you know, birthday parties can take on another, much larger dimension. A friend of ours organized a western evening, no, we didn’t sit around a campfire eating beans. She rented a whole facility with stage and all, and organized a country-western band to play. She then invited all her friends and acquaintances and threw a big ‘ol party. There was lots of food: hamburgers, fries and chili. There was line dancing for those in the know or who just wanted to try it. Before you entered the main tent there were stands selling anything country from cowboy hats to saddles and boots. Now that was one huge party.
Compared to the Country-Western bash, my 30th birthday was small and very low budget. I decided that I was going to throw an American-style party: a pot luck. Americans know what this is and how it works, everyone makes and brings something to eat. The portion size rule is you bring so much that if you and the people coming with you were to eat only that, you would be full. That way you won’t have too much or too little food. The fun part about this is you have no idea what everyone is going to bring. You could very well have a meal consisting of only bread if each of your guests decide they want to bring bread.
So, we invited 30 friends. Because a good portion of the people coming were Swiss I decided to change the rules a bit. Hey, it’s my party and I can do what I want! Each guest unit (couple, family or single) was instructed to bring either a salad, main course or dessert. Then I explained about the amount to bring and hoped for the best. I didn’t want the first Pot Luck for many to be a disaster.
We held the party in our 4 room apartment. Borrowed chairs were lined up on the walls and in the hall. Because Berne is the capitol, all the embassies are located there so some of our guests were employed there. The party turned out to be very international, not just Americans. Interestingly language groups started forming, the English speaking group ended up in one room. The Swiss everywhere else.
Pot Luck food
The party was a huge success but WAY too much food. I guess most of the people brought food to feed at least 15 people.
I think one of the highlights of the party was that a Pakistani made Tandoori Chicken on the grill on our very small balcony. We had hoped he would bring that and he did! The only thing was for some reason the grill started acting like it was a smokescreen. Lucky for us not into the apartment. We were, however quite surprised that the fire department didn’t show up. Yes, there was that much smoke. The chicken was fabulous.
100 years Us
We don’t usually celebrate our birthdays big. My 30th birthday party was an exception to the rule. We knew we didn’t want to have parties to celebrate our 50th, it seemed like everyone was doing that. Still, somehow it would be nice to recognize and celebrate it.
At some point we realized that July 7th was the date directly between our birthdays. Then we realized that if you added our ages together that that year we were going to be 100. Looking back, I think we probably had too much time on our hands to do all that figuring. Still, luck was on our side when we saw that July 7th was a Saturday. We decided that was too good to let pass unnoticed. We had to celebrate. When I was drawing the invitation we realized that we had truly hit the jackpot. Together Ben and I were going to be exactly 100 on 07.07.07! We decided on an open-house that lasted 500 minutes (from 12.40 until 9pm).
What’s even more amazing, when Saturday rolled around, it was perfect weather. It was lots of fun with all the people who came even though we didn’t organize games and activities. Gosh, we didn’t even organize a band.
No Big Party, but a Big Thank You
So now I’m celebrating my 100th post. I can’t invite everyone over for a party because, well, it is worldwide. Where would everyone stay? But I can say that writing the posts has been lots of fun for me. I love hearing what you think about them, too. It makes it worth it.
Thanks to you, my loyal readers and now it’s off to start the next 100! Cheers!