The “Oer-Hollandse”[1] birthday party: It starts when you arrive. You congratulate everyone. Or be that one person who stands in the middle of the circle, waving with both hands and loudly proclaiming: “Hallo, ja, ik doe het maar even zo, gefeliciteerd allemaal!”[2] After which the people already seated try to laugh off this awkward — and socially unacceptable — way of entering the party. Next you’ll hear: “ga lekker zitten joh, ik zal er nog wel even een stoel bijpakken.”[3] And then, when you have said what you would like to drink, and what kind of pie you would like to eat, the party starts. 

Around hour 1600 the “hapjes”[4] will arrive. Here it is important that the table filled with ‘hapjes’[5] is not precisily positioned in the middle of the room, but moved slightly more towards the fat uncle at the party. So that the other people attending will have to stand up, and move through the middle of the circle, to grab, while everyone is looking at them, a little cube of cheese with mustard. Around hour 1700 above mentioned fat uncle will put his hands on his knees and loudly proclaim “Zo zo, tijd om naar huis te gaan.”[6] Formula One is starting and our national hero Max Verstappen might just have a chance to win.

And well, you wouldn’t want to miss that.

Around hour 1800 the hostess (almost always the wife, the husband has been drinking beer all evening) will ask if anyone would like to have dinner there “Dan zetten we zo de barbeque even aan.”[6] Everyone would like to, and the barbeque will be put outside. The full party will move to the barbeque to form a different circle outside around three hastily put-together tables. After three hamburgers everyone will be done and will slowly go home. Excluding grandma, who will stay a little longer “omdat het zo gezellig is.”[8] After cleaning up, the next day, the birthday party is concluded. And I can breathe easily for another full year.