On Friday, we celebrated November birthdays. Two kids have birthdays this month. Savannah turns 6 and Joseph turns 1. Since Savannah is a little older, she understands birthdays a little more, and we wanted to make it extra-special for her. Last week, she made her very own birthday crown out of purple construction paper. (Check out the pics to see pictures.) Sarah, the pre-school teacher, decided to take the kids to the baker to watch them make a birthday cake, and then they would enjoy that very cake during the party. So, we loaded the older kids up into a bicycle cart and meandered into the village. Once we got to the baker, they all crowded around the corner where he decorated cakes (conveniently walled off in a plexiglass cage; which by the end of the morning was covered in smudgy fingerprints), and watched with fascination. They were also given cookies and other little treats like birthday crowns. When Jeff saw the case full of muffins, he started singing "Do You Know the Muffin Man" in broken English... it was really cute.
After we returned home, the birthday party began. They had actually bought a cake for the party the day before, so we ended up with two cakes. That was OK, though, because each kid had a cake. Usually they use one cake and just let all the kids with birthdays take a turn blowing out their candles. Each child gets to blow out his or her candles, and we sing Happy Birthday in Chinese and English to each child individually. So, Savannah got to blow out her 6 candles first, and then Joseph... well, umm... he actually tried to reach for his candle, having never encountered such a bright and flickery thing before, but thankfully his nanny had quick reactions and grabbed his little fist first. :) He was so cute... at first he didn't know what to do with the cake, but his nanny put a bit of frosting in his mouth, and then he started grabbing his cake by the fistfulls! Oh, and one little kid... I didn't see which one... was so excited that it was the monthly birthday party, that as soon as we sat down around the table, he reached up with his little snack plate and scooped up some frosting for himself.
For the curious, Chinese birthday cakes are really good... not as sweet as in the USA. They are like pound cakes with a whipped cream frosting... mildly sweet, but not overwhelming.
There are more pics on our Flickr site.