About Busong Village

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Celebrating Birthdays in Papua New Guinea

Celebrating a birth day in Papua New Guinea is a unique experience. It involves everyone that has some sort of relationship with that person. In the village, celebrating birthdays can involve the whole village and extended family members from the neighboring villages and even from the nearby town(s). This is true if the child comes from an important family in the village. Maybe a child of a village leader, a successful farmer (coffee, cocoa) with extra cash to spend or a family with sons and daughters working in towns throughout Papua New Guinea.
The food and entertainment used in this setting will be quite different from the town folks. It will definitely include some basic goods purchased from the town (which may include rice, flour, sugar, coffee, tea, biscuits and so on). However, local foods taken fresh from the gardens, forest and sea are made available in abundance at the celebration. Guests at the feast may present gifts or place money in a designated container which will then be given to the local church as an offering to God.

In the urban areas (cities, towns) of Papua New Guinea, birthdays are celebrated in a more modern context but with Papua New Guinea flavor. Guests invited to the birthday party may include next door neighbors and their children, work mates and their children and wantoks (people from the same Province, District or Village) and their children. The venue of the feast is also taken into account.

The celebration can take place at the family's home, a family members residence or the family may decide to celebrate in a restaurant or a public space established by the government for various events. In Port Moresby, citizens have the option of renting a space at the Nature Park for various celebrations. The host must also consider food and refreshment for children and adults. Refreshment for adults will mostly include alcohol (wine and beer) for those who consume alcohol. The children will be given sweets (lollies, candies and so on) and depends on the host, little activities that will keep them occupied. The adults will most likely sit in their little groups drinking alcohol and chewing betelnut (Areca nut chewed with lime-a PNG favorite). The food can be quite varied and you will most likely see a whole roasted pork (pig is important in PNG culture). All the cooked food and refreshments are arranged neatly in order on tables setup for this purpose. A member of the family will be appointed to make a speech on behalf of the family and also welcome the guests. The guests and children are served first. There is no limit to the number of times you can line up at the table to be served again if you are still hungry as long as there is food available on the tables.

Baby Mende who celebrated his first birthday at my house at the University of Papua New Guinea on Saturday, 22nd of September inspired me to write this story. His birthday coincided with the Papua New Guinea Independence celebration on Wednesday( 19th September) so the family decided to hold the party on Saturday. As the uncle of baby Mende, I have to try my utmost best to ensure his birthday party is a success. Baby Mende's birthday party was quite a huge success however, when it came to giving speech I have to ask my cousin brother to do it on my behalf because I was too shy.

And most importantly a birthday party without a birthday cake is not a birthday party.

1 comment:

  1. All your description is really very nice. It sounds and looks lovely! Thanks for sharing this blog article.

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