In addition to going to the Sant Antoni Fiesta, I had the pleasure of attending a children’s birthday party in the country last weekend. Cristina, the academic director of the school we’re attending, was kind enough to invite me to join her, her husband Hector, and her daughter Julia for an outing to the country where their friends were hosting a party for two of Julia’s friends. The house was about a thirty minute drive from Valencia, a second home owned by the abuelos (grandparents) of one of the families. There were about 60 people there, including about 20 children, most in the 4-5 year old range.
While there were similarities to American birthday parties, the event was distinctly Spanish. There was paella, of course! Most of the parents met through the children’s school, and have formed a close, supportive network of families. They all brought amazing home-made food (like our potlucks), but in addition they looked after each other’s children and all stayed around to clean up and put the furniture away when the party was over. There were a number of grandparents in attendance as well. Of course, there were lots of besos, including for me…nothing like getting kissed on both cheeks by 40 strangers to make your day!
There were two little girls celebrating their birthdays, and they were each given an identical set of three small presents (puppets, a witch doll, and a book). Cristine told me the parents make a conscious effort to keep presents to a minimum so the real focus of the party is to be with friends. It was a long party…from 12 to 6…and it was evident that the children and the parents thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. It was challenging to spend a long time with a large group in which very few people spoke English, but I so appreciated getting a “behind the scenes” look at Spanish family life.