Birthdays are celebrated in Tajikistan. The difference is that a person does not celebrate the day of birth but the day of being named. The party is much the same as anywhere else in the world. There is much food to
eat. This is displayed on a table and the centre piece is the Birthday Cake.
When guests arrive they bring with them presents for the Birthday person. No specific gift is given. As in the West, guests pick the gift they give. Money gifts would not be given. Flowers are favourite gifts. Tajiks, whether male or female, like flowers and make a big fuss when they are given. The gifts will be placed on a table and not opened until after the party is over.
Children make toasts to the child celebrating a birthday. This is a wish that the child will enjoy good things throughout the coming year. Every child
will raise their glass of pop and drink to this sentiment. They will be much excitement and happy laughter.
The Birthday Cake is highly decorated with soft icing and cream. There will be flowers made out of icing on the top and the sides. These are usually pink roses. Sometimes there might be Happy Birthday written on it
in Russian or Tajik. At the party, whether for children or adults the cake will have candles on it. For children the candles represent the number of
years. Adults only have a two or three candles. It is symbolic gesture to show that this is their birthday cake.
Everyone gathers around the cake cutting celebration. First the candles are lit. Happy Birthday is sung in English but sometimes it is sung in other languages. There is also a lovely Russian birthday song that is sung as well at children’s parties.
The Birthday guy must try and blow out the candles in one blow. In England the birthday person makes a secret wish prior to blowing out the candles. In Tajikistan a secret wish is not made.
Cutting the cake is a task for the person whose birthday it is, even if you are a young child you are given the sharpest knife to do this. The cake is then cut up into large size ‘Billy Bunter’ slices and passed around to the guests. Everyone gets a piece because as soon as one cake is finished auxiliary birthday cakes are brought into the party.
After the food has been eaten the dancing starts and boys and girls join in with dancing. The dancing is individual and children or adults do not dance as groups or as couple. The dance movements are different
for girls and boys. A Birthday Party does not include party games for the children. During the birthday ceremony lots of photographs are taken. Many Tajik people love to have their photograph taken.
At school there are many birthday parties. These take place at the end of the school day when lessons are over. Parents like to make elaborate Birthday Parties for their children. Consequently the director thought these were too elaborate affairs for a school. More moderate parties now occur. This consists of pop, chips and a Birthday Cake. If parents wish for more
elaborate parties then these take place at the child’s home.
I attended such a party in October 2003. The boy is called Dilshod. It was his 12th birthday. He invited the whole of year 8 to his home for his party. The pupils came to school in their uniforms and at the end
of lessons changed into their party gear. This was casual wear. Most of the children gave Dilshod a present while at school. When he went home with
everyone he was loaded down with the gifts. Other gifts had arrived in the afdternoon.
The party began with a meal and then afterwards the children spent their time watching a video and dancing to Tajikistan music.This was pop music and similar in sound to Western pop tunes. The party started at 4 o'clock and finished at 6:30. This was the children's party. Later in the evening was a family birthday party. This started about 8:30.
Having a party at school is but one of the parties. There will be a family party at home. A developing trend for children is to have a special outing to a fast food restaurant to celebrate this occasion. At this gathering the guests will be the friendship group of the child and will be a much smaller party. Food will be a beefburger, pop and ice cream.
I like the class Birthday Parties because it is a shared experience in which children and teachers enjoy an important social occasion.
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