Crash course how to behave during a Dutch birthday party.
It can be best described as a ‘party’ that involves sitting in a circle and chatting while drinking coffee or tea and eating cake. Chairs are arranged in a circle so that everyone can sit together. People typically don’t wander around mingling and circulating, forming their own pairs and groups. Fingers crossed you get to sit beside a fun person or else you’re stuck listening to tedious stories for a few hours.
Furthermore, it’s important to know that when other attendees shake hands or give you 3 cheek kisses and announce ‘gefeliciteerd (congratulations)’, they’re not introducing themselves. It’s custom for the Dutch to go round the entire room and congratulate everyone at the party when they arrive at the party, not just the birthday person. You’re expected to congratulate them in return. Enjoy the continual hum of throaty ‘gefeliciteerd’s 😉.
If all the congratulating from earlier has left you confused about who the birthday person is don’t worry, they are most likely the one who just served you tea and cake. They don’t get much of a rest on their special day and even have to buy or bake their own cake.