In the last few years I have seen the migration of friends and acquaintances from their 30s into their 40s. There has been the odd 50th celebration and even a couple of 30ths, but the general trend is definitely moving from the 30s to the 40s.
And in the last few months the pace seems to have picked up with many of my old school friends uploading their party pictures on facebook. Then it occurred to me that as the school intake in those days was all those who turned 5 between July and June of the year we started school (in the January), everyone was turning 40 and I could expect to see a whole lot more celebration photos in the next year.
Today I got an invitation in the mail from an old American friend who is just a few months ahead of me (can't wait for my turn but more about that later). And it caused me to once again reflect on cultural differences.
40th birthdays don't seem to be that big here, correct me if I am wrong. They are big in Australia, I remember my mum (I was 19) and all her friends having big celebrations. Admittedly they have everything going for them down under: warmer weather, big backyards, bigger houses, local halls, school hall and church halls all available to rent for a fairly cheap price (compared to anything you might find here), much cheaper alcohol and a more lenient alcohol policy, cheaper food, cheaper catering prices, a huge range of rentable music options, much less fierce noise policies as it is not as densely populated, and well, a much more active social life. People have huge networks of friends and acquaintances and often do things in a pretty big way.
While one of my oldest, dearest friends headed to Queensland for winter sunshine, the other sent me an invite for a party with over 100 people this weekend, a bonfire, a spit roast & fancy dress theme (Grease Musical). She has probably hired some kind of music system, party tents and who knows what else. Everyone is bringing a tent or caravan and staying over in the paddock where the party will be. It is to be a major event!
Now this might be the biggest of the 40ths I've heard about so far, but it is not the only one I know of with a fancy-dress theme. And that really gets me chuckling - can you imagine doing a fancy-dress theme party here? People would get the shock of their lives!! Would they dress up? Would they come? I've heard of plenty of kids parties but never of an adults party with a fancy-dress theme. The mind boggles..... People kind of take themselves pretty seriously in this part of the world - especially if they don't know the other people around them really well. (I am hoping the Swedes amongst us will tell me I am wrong - that it is just my impression and experiences!).
And then there is my American friend here in Stockholm who is having an open-house from 12 noon for her 40th. It is so Swedish. So fuss free (in comparison), down to earth and practical.
Mind you I'm not so sure I have ever actually had the privilege of going to one of these open-house events before, but have heard many talk of them. How do they actually work? What time should we go? How long should we stay? While we don't see that much of each other I am very fond of her and would love to really celebrate her birthday!! Is that possible at an open-house? It feels so tame......
Maybe I'm just too much of a party-going Aussie, it is in my blood - give me a rip-roaring party any day- and I love fancy dress!!! It is great to see people loosen up and lighten up. Perhaps it would be something for the Swedes after all.....
P.S. Hope it is a great weekend for you Michelle! Happy 40th!!