Recently, several babies have been born (including our third grandchild J), people celebrated their 40th, 50th, or 60th birthday or someone bought a new car or tractor. All of which are reasons for a party in our village!
The people here like to come together to drink and eat and especially chatter and gossip. They use every reason to do this. The funniest thing for me was that they get together whenever someone buys a new car, motorbike, tractor or quad (just not for a bicycle). This new mode of transport must be “initiated” and people have a toast to many safe kilometers driven. Everyone in the village receives a call that they have to come to the house of the new owner in question at 6 or 7 o’clock that evening. Then you already know enough….. they have bought something new again ;). As I wrote in a previous blog, get-togethers are held outside on the driveway, or in cold weather, in the garage. There is plenty of alcohol (Cviček and beer) and plates with sandwiches, biscuits, or other goodies. Such a meeting usually only lasts for an hour or two.
When a child is born, a party is held that same evening at the new daddy’s home. We will all receive a text message saying that the baby has been born and that we should come over to toast on him or her. Mother and child are still in the hospital at that time because babies are always born in the hospital and stay there with their mother for at least 2-3 days before they can go home. The grandmother and some neighbors take care of all the snacks. The strange thing is that no gifts are brought along. Some go on a maternity visit later and then bring a gift.
A party that is tackled a lot bigger is the »round« birthday, so 30, 40, 50 …. etc. »Regular« birthdays are only celebrated on a small scale with a few loved ones, but once you reach a round birthday, that is reason for a big party with the whole village and all other friends and family. Sometimes we are 130 people or so.
When it is someone’s birthday in winter, the party is often postponed until the weather is warmer. Of course, again, because the parties take place outside. Several people in the village have a so-called »fire brigade set«, a long narrow wooden table with 2 benches that you can fold. In the Netherlands it is called a »beer table« I believe. These are placed outside in the driveway, in the garage, or sometimes just in the middle of the village on the street.
Incidentally, money is collected for these parties and offered as a gift to the birthday boy or girl. Meat is always served from the BBQ. Naturally, they serve čevapčiči, deliciously seasoned minced meat sausages, but also other meat. Salads are made from tomatoes, onions, and paprika and often pieces of potato are fried. In addition, all kinds of tasty pieces of cake that the women make themselves.
Music is played and in between, there is also live music, usually in the form of one or more accordionists. The accordion is indispensable here and always so-called »Oberkrainer« music is played, so polkas J. The day before the actual birthday there is already a small party because a maypole is set up by the villagers. This is a tradition here, but more about that in a next blog.
Normally, the time of the »fire brigade parties« would have started in June, but due to Corona they will not take place this year. “Fire brigade parties” are, as the name implies, village parties that the voluntary fire brigade of that village organizes annually to raise funds. As said, those parties start in June and every weekend there is a party in a different village. Everywhere in the region, homemade signs are hung with the date of the party and the name of the band performing. After all, an »ensemble« is always hired to perform and there is plenty of dancing as well.
There are also several things to eat that are baked on BBQ’s on-site. Logically, this has to be paid for. All members of the voluntary fire brigade, their family and friends, help with the organization, baking, and serving. By selling food and drinks, the corps earn money for the purchase of, for example, new equipment. In the weeks before the party, they also visit all kinds of companies and shops to request sponsor items. These items can be everything from a towel or t-shirt with a company logo, to a pack of toilet paper or a tool of some sort. All the collected items are provided with a number. Then »lottery tickets« are made with those numbers and the tickets are sold to the visitors of the party for € 2.50 per ticket. The person then takes his number to the place where all the items are stored and receives his or her »price« there. Of course, there is always a »grand prize« that is worth several hundred euros so the tickets sell like crazy. You see people walking up and down with an umbrella, a spare tire for their wheelbarrow or a receipt for a free haircut at a hairdresser nearby. These evenings are always very nice and in some villages, there is also a fireworks show around midnight. Hopefully, we can visit a few again next year J.