Monday, 13 June 2011

5 Things We Love To Hate About Brazilian Birthday Parties - And How To Get Over It

Brigadeiros: Late Night, Anyone?
1) The Time of The Party: 
You may as well just get used to the fact that ninety percent of the invitations you receive will be for parties that start when your kids are normally in the their pyjamas and end when you are normally in yours, and on a school night to boot.  No use tut-tut-tutting.  Brazilian kids go to bed late and there isn't any amount of head shaking and finger wagging that is going to change that.  I get over it by simply not going to those parties.  Believe me, going to a mere one in ten of them is more than an adult can handle without medication anyway. 

2) The Sweeties:
As if trays of Briga-deiros, and the promise of cake aren't enough, a table full of sweets is in order.   I take one look and hear that scary horror music from Psycho.  It's a  multi-coloured minefield of hysteria-inducing, teeth-rotting, choking hazards.  The truth is that Brazilian sweets haven't undergone the same do-goody makeover as in the UK, with their enlightened natural colours and flavours.  Here it's old school, like when we were four, but probably worse.  Get over it by feeding your kids a truly self-righteously healthy meal before you arrive. Something with quinoa and spinach and salmon will do. Then, when they do go to the table, steer them towards a really big, hard lollipop that will keep them licking for the rest of the party while other kids scoff the rest.  When you get home, scrub those milk teeth like Tinkerbell's life depended on it.

3) Health and Safety
This one's for Mr Becoming, who spent most of a party this weekend doing a safety assessment of the "Biggie Play" (those multi-tiered play areas invented by Ronald MacDonald) and the climbing wall (no helmets and lackadaisical monitoring).  He was worried about falls and accidents.  My concern didn't amount to more than a passing curiosity about how often the ball-pit balls were cleaned.  I got over it by looking the other way and thinking pretty thoughts.  There's nothing so bad in life that can't be made better by alcohol hand gel and a positive outlook.

4) Inappropriate Games
Killing Machines By Day.  Bed Wetters By Night.
These party venues cater for a wide age range so it is inevitable that there are some things that are not for the smaller children.  It is also inevitable that the father of the small child will allow said child to participate in these activities even though they know it will make the mother of said child apoplectic.   Take, for example, the shooting of zombies in a violent and graphic video game.  I'm still getting over this one actually and would just bury the memory if it weren't for the fact it was, in Little Bear's opinion, the best bit of the whole party and he won't stop talking about it.  If total denial doesn't do the trick, the advice would be not to take Dads to birthday parties in the first place.

5) The Birthday Cake Ritual
The cake at a Brazilian Birthday Party is presented on a long table decorated with figurines that reflect the party's theme, in front of a decorated thematic banner.  The theme is usually a Disney Princess or a Super Hero.  These tables are an all-singing, all-dancing symbol of so much that is wrong with today's society; bad role models, commercialisation, yawn, yawn.  Get over it by only going to Hello Kitty themed parties because it is impossible to feel angry at Hello Kitty.  She's just too blooming cute. 


  1. Oh my, this HKitty on the wall has a GIGANTIC nose. Someone got their proportions wrong. :)

    I don't particularly like children parties in Brasil anymore. They didn't use to be that flashy and expensive in my time, but even back then they always happened in the evening - it was so exciting to wait! We had home made sweets, like brigadeiro, cake and jelly, instead of mass produced candies and lolipops. But we also had several flavours of sodas, pop corn, ice cream, beer for the grown ups and lots of music and running around. I loved them.

    Brazilian kids go to bed late. Same for italians, spaniards, french and every other culture with a more relaxed view on parenting. Don't worry, they tend to reach adulthood pretty much unscathed. :) Americans and british parents usually are a bit more obsessed with rules (not always to a great result, as I find american kids a bit clingy and dependent, always needing to be "entertained"). I spent my childhood watching soaps with my family, staying late if there was a good movie, discussing the plot, laughing at the jokes, generally being together and interacting. In Italy is common to see a whole family having dinner in a restaurant way past 10PM (they usually dine late), with the elders, teenagers, children and babies sharing the food and the love. I think it's beautiful. :)

    I don't see why a 7 year old *needs* to be in bed by eight unless he/she is tired (but then again I also don't understand why foreigners carry 5 years olds in prams). I have the feeling some people shove their kids into bed early to get rid of them and have some "me time", chucking down cheap wine while watching reality shows. NOT saying it's your situation, just speaking from my au pair experience five years ago. As a child I've learnt to take responsibility for my own choices; if the movie was really good I knew I'd be a bit sleepy in the morning - but that's fine because I was a kid and full of energy.

    As for sweets, I was raised with a bottle of coke on one hand and a can of carnation on the other. :) I did have coffee in the morning, and more with cake in the afternoon. I was a very well behaved little girl, SO not hyperactive neighbours would point out it was as if my mother didn't have any kids. And on sunday lunch, dad would give me half a glass of black beer. I read a lot, played with my dolls and watched TV. I like to believe I didn't turn into a psychopath, a fatso, or a drunk, desperate housewife. Or maybe not yet. ;)

  2. Hi! Thanks for your comments. The bedtime issue is interesting. I used to be of the strict 7pm bedtime school(and have been known to put my kids to bed at 6pm). I did so for two reasons. One: I believed that it is better for the children to have a routine and go to bed early. Two: Exactly the reasons you say - ME TIME - and I didn't/don't feel even remotely guilty about that! That said, since moving to Rio I have had an epiphany regarding the Brazilian late bedtime. I think it has less to do with parenting styles and more to do with the climate. Here and in the European countries you mention the summers are so hot that children simply can't do anything in the afternoon...they really only start coming alive around 5/6pm when it gets cool, and they are usually having a lovely time by what I used to consider 'bedtime'. So, I've relaxed the rules a bit and my kids can stay up...but only 'til 8.30pm!!

    As for the sugar issue. It isn't even about the kids. I know they'll survive if they eat sweets and drink Coke. It's more about my self-esteem as a parent. Obviously I want to be (and at least be seen to be) a good one. In the past parents put their children's nutrition ahead of their own. We are the first generation whose children eat worse than the parents. Why would I let / encourage my kids to drink Coke or eat sweets when I don't allow myself to eat that crap? But at times like these (Brazilian Birthday Parties) I have to get over this and chill out.

    1. Great place, great time. Getting strange experienced with orphanages. I learned how to hold an excelent progam for kids, hope more activities. I became a kid on that day in my thought.

  3. I like Brazilian birthday parties, off course it's because I am brazilian, but if you see our parties are much more fun (for kids and adults) than those UK and american parties, for what I heard from some brazilian mothers living in both countries, usually the "party" is just a cake and some very simple food, adults are not invited and the party doesn't last long...
    I'm thankful that I had those huge (Europeans could say it's over the top) brazilian birthdays with all my relatives and friends invited and lots of camera recordings to prove it.For this one special day you can eat all the candy you want, play lots of games, open a lot of presents and dance a lot,netheless to say when it comes to party brazilians certainly learn from a young age, the point is to have fun and relax, you never know when are you going to die so its better to enjoy yourself with the people you love, the concerns about consumerism and unhealthy food, well, if you be hit by a truck in the next day all those concerns wont matter anymore, wich stays are the those precious moments of joy when children and parents celebrate life and love like no one else, anyway children never get the same age again, and once their childhood is gone... than its gone, so it makes sense to me to have those huge birthday parties until you can.

  4. I just see you like a britsh that wants to live in brazil but with the UK culture...
    Of course is very different. But, the parties didn't happen every day, so this kind of thing is not every day.. Is good to everyone to break the routine...

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  7. How incredibly insensitive and ignorant. You know, I am Italian and we value family time and time with other families just as much as brazilian people, who by the way click really fast with us italians. British people are so out of touch with reality, it's scary. I'm friend with this family comprised of a lebanese woman and this british-english man. He is so racist, he hates immigrants because they don't know how to integrate with the british culture, yet here you are dissing brazilian culture while you are trying to live in Brazil. I know that generalizations are bad but how can I not, when you're not the only british person who complains about immigrants not adapting when you guys don't make any effort to adapt, either. Just like when you come to Italy and you try to congregate in certain areas of the country and try to ruin our beautiful culture with your unfriendly attitudes. Stay in England!

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  9. Oh my god! Hello Kitty and coloured candies. What a shame!

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  12. I'm so sorry for your kids. They are Brazilian but can't even enjoy birthday parties the "Brazilian way". Some people are just not equiped to adapt to different cultures and situations and thrive, instead they only notice the different and label it as bad.

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