I have promised to write about my 30th birthday weekend in 2005 so here I go:
In January 2005 I sent out an email to all my friends telling them to block that weekend in July (lucky me that my birthday was on a Saturday!) for my birthday party. I wasn’t sure how many people would actually be able to go all the way to Sweden but almost everybody did come in the end!
My family helped me with the organisation and my sister put together a really nice pamphlet with the programme, useful information and my presentation of everyone of the guests (a few lines on who they are, how they know me etc – nobody knew everybody so I thought that it was a good idea).
Most people arrived on the Friday, and I had reserved the local youth hostel (which is actually a student resident during the school year) for everybody. Some of the guests arrived early in the evening and we had a nice barbeque in my parents’ garden, while waiting for the others. Eleven of the guests arrived with same flight from Brussels, and they played a joke on me on their way to my hometown. They told me that one of the guys had missed the train and then had taken another train towards Ystad – in the complete opposite direction. I really panicked because it was the last train and we had all been drinking so nobody would be able to drive and pick him up! Fortunately it was a joke!
The next day, my birthday, everybody was invited for breakfast in the garden – the sun was shining and it was a perfect summer’s day. My Swedish friends acted as drivers for the foreigners and we all headed towards Österlen, the south-east coast of Skåne. At Stenshuvud, the southern most national park in Sweden, we went to the beach – it’s a nice white sandy beach with the imposing hill of Stenshuvud next to it (Stenshuvud means Stone’s head). Most of the east coast of Skåne has strong currents and I warned everybody not to swim too far out. I think that many of my foreign friends were surprised that the beach was so nice and that it was possible to swim in the Baltic (which is not always the case, the water temperature varies enormly depending on the winds, but we were lucky!).
Afterwards we had fika at Café Annorlunda, which is a special summer tradition for my family – the café is situated very close to the national park and serves a buffet of homemade buns, cakes and cookies for a fixed price. All you can eat is the principle!! My grandmother still remembers when it cost just a few crowns in the 1950’s & 60’s…
The location for the party in the evening was Skåne-Tranås (it’s called like that because there is another Tranås somewhere else in Sweden!), my friends L & M had organised their wedding reception there in 2003 and it’s a really nice place. The guests could all sleep in the youth hostel which is hosted in several old buildings by the old mill dam.
We were 46 people, 12 nationalities and even my grandparents came along for the dinner. It was a buffet dinner, most of it was prepared by us, but we had also ordered some food from a caterer, my sister had baked the bread, my grandmother had made the cakes, and the alcohol had been bought in Denmark (it’s much cheaper). It was a great dinner, snaps songs were sung and my friend M was a perfect toast master! My sister’s boyfriend was the DJ and had even invested in a mixer table for the occasion.
Unfortunately O couldn’t make it to the party, we had only been together for a month, and he had to go on a business trip to the US. However, his name was mentioned several times in speeches, and after the dinner I felt that I had to explain myself to my grandparents – I hadn’t told them yet about my new boyfriend!! Fortunately I had told my family about him…
The party was a success, and there was a surprise for me – the cakes were served in another room and my sister had given all the guests a candle (those small ones for cakes), and they sung Happy birthday in Swedish, English, French, Irish, Dutch, Italian, German and Flemish. Then I had to go around and blow out all the candles, one by one – it was really lovely.
My German friend P had another surprise in store – a piñata that he had brough from Berlin! We had so much fun trying to break it – I had the first go and was completely unsuccessful! Finally it was broken by Mary T, if I’m not mistaken, and all the sweets fell out on the floor to everybody’s excitement.
It was so nice to see all my friends gathered for the first time in the same place, friends from school, from university, from my travels and studies/work abroad and my family & neighbours. My grandfather enjoyed watching everybody dance and he was fascinated by the fact that you don’t dance with anybody special and without touching! I asked him if the loud music didn’t bother him but he didn’t even want to go home when our neighbours were leaving and they were giving him a ride.
On the Sunday we had a nice breakfast on the terrace and then we headed to Lund where I gave a “guided tour” for my foreign friends to show them the university, the cathedral (Jätten Finn / the Giant Finn is important to see, he’s so tiny!) and Kulturen (an open-air museum like Skansen in Stockholm). Most of the guests left in the evening, but the French girls C & S, Dutch R and P from New Zealand stayed with my family and watched Änglagård (a classic Swedish film from 1992) and ate Danish red hot dogs!
All in all it was a wonderful birthday weekend and I really enjoyed showing everybody Skåne in the summer!