Saturday, June 30, 2012

Australian birthday parties

A while ago I wrote about the Australian birthday tradition of cake cutting. Apparently there are two rules of thumb 1. If the knife touches the bottom of the cake then you must kiss the person of the opposite sex closest to you or 2. if the knife comes out dirty than you have to kiss the person of the opposite sex closest to you...both of which are clearly impossible and that's why there is more kissing at Australian birthdays than American ones.*

After Dessert Day, Kirsti was telling some story about birthday parties and started talking about "Pass the Parcel."  Inspector Climate was nodding along and I finally had to whisper "What's pass the parcel?"

Pass the parcel seems to be a game played at children's birthday parties where a present is wrapped in layers and layers of wrapping paper. In some layers there are little gifts or pieces of candy lollies (stick with the Australian, D), the "parcel" is passed from kid to kid and each one takes off a layer.

Eventually, some kid get's the present in the middle. Now Kirsti described "pass the parcel" as present opening set to music a la musical chairs. Once the music stops one layer gets unwrapped. However, Inspector Climate was unaware of this variation.

So, there was that. That sounds fun - and we all agreed that I had an incomplete childhood because I had never played pass the parcel.

Later that night, I brought up Pass the Parcel again with Inspector Climate and he didn't understand what I said, because enunciated and pronounced the 'r' in parcel.

When he says it, he pronounces it like this: pahss the pahcel.

Seriously, Australian is hard, yo.

*I made this up and there is no scientific proof that I know of that proves this.


  1. We did this at my birthday parties! It's a British thing. I can't remember if there was music or not, but I'm pretty sure my parents just made sure each kid got to unwrap a layer since each layer had a present to make it fair.

  2. This is all so weird to me. Firstly, that's a lot of kissing at a kids party. Also I giggled at pahss the pahcel. :)

    Someone invite me to an Australian birthday part now.

  3. The whole R thing confuses me.
    I said "Mel-burn" to my friend a while ago and she, being Aussie was like.. "What? It's Mel-bun!"

    Queue large discussion about Rs :P

  4. That's awesome! Now I kinda wanna pahss the pahcel at MY next party! :o)

  5. I've done this before quite a few times... sometimes a family member will do it at Christmas but it's usually a gift within a gift within a gift and so on, like those Russian dolls that stack up together. I did it for a friend's bridal shower this year where I started with a huge box and then she opened about ten other wrapped boxes inside it until she finally got to a gift card for a very expensive and large item off her registry. That way she got something she really wanted but also got to experience the fun of opening gifts at her shower. So that's kind of similar I think?

  6. I love Pass the Parcel! There was always music involved when I was a kid too, just like Kirsti said.

    Hmm, this is giving me an idea for wrapping Chris's birthday gifts...

  7. I played this game at Canadian birthday parties! We called it "hot potato" and you had to toss the parcel quickly to the next person sitting beside in a circle. When the music stopped (or someone's mom said "stop!!") the person holding the present had to take off a layer of wrapping paper. The last person holding the present with the last layer of paper when the music stopped won the prize :)

    Good memories!

    Now I want cake.

  8. The trickiest part of pass the parcel is ensuring that every kid gets a turn at unwrapping a layer. And making sure that there's an equal number of layers and children. Otherwise things get VERY messy.

    Also? You'd be surprised how adept you get at making the knife come out clean (generally, a small smear of icing is accepted as clean, whereas big blobs of icing and cake = dirty) when the nearest boy is your gross cousin/the boy from school who eats his boogers.

  9. It took me until I was a teenager to realise that pass the parcel was rigged so that everyone got a chance to unwrap and the appropriate people got the present at the end.

    I feel a bit free-er having admitted that.

    Lady - when are we going to catch up again?! I want to take you to my favourite vegetarian gluten free place. It's got the best breakfast menu EVER.

  10. Australian does sound hard! Lol, so many customs to learn, but I also think it is really cool that you get to experience this whole other world with IC. It's amazing to me how cultures can be so different and yet so similar at the same time.

  11. I guess you won't be speaking like pirates.

    Such interesting traditions.

    Hope your weekend is fun.

  12. Don't worry, I totally get made fun of for pronouncing my Rs, too. Sorry, but 12 years of schooling in America where teachers may as well beat you over the head until you PRONOUNCE THE STUPID LETTER doesn't help. They didn't prepare me for life in Australia!

    But I heard about this game from my friend's fiance. I sort of stared and was a bit confused. He didn't mention the mass kissing events, though.

    PS: Hi. I'm Kirsti's crazy friend who was referred here because YAY, AN AMERICAN IN AUSTRALIA. I've been hiding.

  13. There is lots of hugging and cheek-kissing at Chilean birthday parties, too.

    Are we talking cheek-kissing or like New Year's Eve style kissing?

  14. Oh wow, I thought the whole 'knife touching the bottom' thing was universal. Guess I was wrong :p

    And Pass the Parcel is the best!

  15. Can I be Australian for the cake cutting thing? Because that sounds super fun. And also another reason to get excited over cake

  16. Being Australian sounds amazing.

  17. well that's pretty cool. i like australian birthday traditions. when i was a kid i had to go through the spanking machine and i cried. i think pass the parcel sounds a lot less painful.