A Hula Party

We have a sweet friend from Mexico City who remembers everyone’s birthday.  She will call, a country away, to wish you happy birthday.  This year she called me about a week after apologizing for having missed my actual birthday.  She didn’t forget it–she just was super busy that day.

I thought that she was something special rare (she is really special), until I moved to Mexico.

No one does a birthday quite like a Mexican.  And it doesn’t matter if you are rich or on limited income, birthdays are really special days.  That’s why I never miss an opportunity to attend a party.  It’s a lot of fun!  These are the essentials of a Mexican birthday party:

  1. Decorations-  I’ve been to birthday parties here where everything is homemade.  The decorations are made from tissue paper folded and cut to create beautiful flowers and poms.  And then there are parties like the hula party–where the parents MUST have shopped in the States.  There were blow up decorations, garland, table center pieces, etc.
  2. Snacks–  On the table tops, botanas are a must.  This at cheaper parties might be delicious and inexpensive chicharron with Valentina sauce.  Swag parties have crackers and cheese, or a popular strawberry and chipotle sauce spread over cream cheese as a dip for crackers.
  3. Drink– Each table often has a 2-liter of soda sitting in the middle with the snacks.  Sometimes, ice is even included… 
  4. Food– MUCH later, food is served.  I’ve been to parties with tamales and gorditas.  Both of these are stuffed bread.  A gordita is like a thick tortilla that has been cut to make a pocket (similar to a pita bread pocket).  This is filled with mixed meats or maybe peppers and cream sauce.  One party I was at served a sandwich with a cold macaroni salad.  On Friday, they went all out with individual pies stuffed with rajas (peppers and cream sauce) and a salad with chopped mango, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries and blueberries.  Yummo!
  5. A cake– Cakes in Mexico are amazing.  Or at least in Chiapas they are.  I always had delicious, rich, creamy, moist cakes in Chiapas!  Here in the north, they tend to be a little dry.  Cakes also often have a whipped frosting and fruit on top.  Cupcakes are gaining in popularity, so sometimes you can find cupcakes.  Most times layered cakes have jelly in between the layers.  Sometimes they have caramel sauce.  Singing the birthday song is special.  The birthday child stands behind the table as the candles (or sparklers) are lit.  Their family joins them behind the table.  And the group sings “Las Mañanitas” to them.  This is my favorite time…
  6. A piñata–  But the piñata also gets a lot of my attention.  I have NEVER been to a party where the person pulling the rope doesn’t almost get whacked.  They start with the youngest, and work their way up.  You always get a rough little kid with built up aggression that makes the crowd take a step back.  The crowd is bigger when the candy really IS inside the piñata.  At the party on Friday, I saw a mean little boy pick up the leg from the piñata and start hitting his nanny with it.  He literally chased her around the party while she said, “No! David, I am NOT a piñata!”  Piñatas are seemingly harmless when they’re cartoon characters or giant hearts.  But have you ever seem people take turns beating a giant replica of your student?  That is a little strange…

I am looking pretty forward to having some cute birthday parties for my little girl.  The thing that I love the best about them is that usually the emphasis is placed on spending time together.  Neighbors will join parties in small communities.  Fancy parties that are supposed to end at 7 are extended way past the time.  And I have never seen a child open her gifts.  The gifts aren’t obligatory, and they are placed on a side table as you enter.  That’s where they stay until the child goes home.  I love that!

Is it too early to start planning for March of 2014?  Let’s see…




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s