Author Topic: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)  (Read 81515 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Nina Nealon

  • Guest
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #45 on: August 02, 2007, 07:28:08 PM »
Hahaha.. no way!! I have been thinking about this all story day, since i read it yesterday, and laughing. I loved her response =)

Ehelldame

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
  • I'm evil personified to the terminally crass.
    • Etiquette Hell
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2007, 10:33:11 PM »
Great thread!  It's also the reason why there is a disclaimer on the forum policies somewhere that opinions expressed on the forum may not reflect those of www.EtiquetteHell.com or mine.

This isn't a new position for Ehell regarding adults hosting their own birthday parties.  It's been addressed as far back as ten years ago in older archives and discussed on the very first version of the Ehell forum on Yahoo groups about five years ago.  The person submitting the "story" is actually commenting on my response to the previous 2006 Faux Pas of the Year story I responded to.   http://www.etiquettehell.com/content/eh_misc/fauxpasoftheyear/fauxpas2006arc.shtml

My exact words then were:  Yet another victim of her own self-entitlement and self-honoring.  Etiquette is pretty clear on this issue, i.e. one does not host a party in which one is also the guest of honor, particularly a party which has a strong cultural expectation of giving and receiving gifts.     "Everyone is invited by ME to celebrate ME!  It's all about ME!"

I don't recall anyone posting to this forum and taking issue with my comments made just about 6 months ago.  In other words, I've been very consistent over the years, the collective opinion of the forum changes regularly.

And if anyone has a problem with my etiquette opinion, consider Miss Manners' on the same subject.  She refers to adults who host their own birthday parties (being both host and honoree) as having a "double claim to center stage" and "aggrandizing individuals".  Read this column of hers (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41867-2005Jan2.html), called "Be my Guest", in which she laments the decline of parties hosted simply to give pleasure to guests and the increase in "occasion-events that people orchestrate in honor of themselves".   Good reading and I agree with her. 

This concept that one must host a party in one's honor because no one else will do it merely provides evidence that people no longer understand what hospitality means.  If everyone is expending time, energy and money to host parties solely in their own honor but for no one else, I view that as evidence of a self-centered society with everyone looking out for their own interests. Hosting to give pleasure to others (like someone on their birthday) appears to not only be a dying art form, it is dead.  And that is pitiable. 

As for the excuse that friends and family "have their own lives" and are "too busy" to host a birthday party, I'll yield the floor to Letitia Baldrige, my etiquette idol:


Americans are entertaining less and less in their homes these days.  There are repetitive excuses given for this sad state of affairs, none of which, in my opinion, hold up:

"I'm so busy and pressured; I work too hard."  Rebuttal:  Everyone is busy and pressured.  Entertaining fits into your life simply by making it one of your priorities.

"My apartment is too small." Rebuttal: No apartment is too small for staging a dinnr party for four or six. People do miraculous things in small spaces by borrowing folding tables and chairs, keeping ice in the bathtub and putting a board over it to use as a bar, and sliding dirty dishes temporarily under the bed because there's no room in the sink! 
(Isn't she great?  *genuflect, genuflect*)

When you host people just for the sake of pleasing them - togive them a good time and make them feel happy and glad- you're reaching out to them and thinking outside, not inside. (Preach it, Letitia!  Whoo hoo!)

Bottom line, fellow Ehellions, is that if none of your friends or family will host a party in your honor, you have to consider that maybe you are not worthy of honor or accept the sad reality that your friends and family choose to prioritize their lives to not make time for hosting parties for anyone but themselves.  Break the cycle and begin hosting parties for everyone else! 

As for the tone of my post,  Ehellions appear to love those comments...that is until the comments are about their favorite faux pas to commit. 

ETA: fixing spelling typo
« Last Edit: August 03, 2007, 12:50:37 AM by Ehelldame »

kareng57

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12283
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #47 on: August 02, 2007, 10:46:18 PM »
And another ? for those that think there is nothing wrong with one throwing their own birthday party-then how would it be wrong for someone to throw their own wedding or baby shower?

Because it is clear in most of the social circles on this board that birthday party does not equal must bring gift or other compensations.  I think Auntie Venom said it best- strict etiquette says it's a no-no, but then again etiquette exists so that everyone will be happy and comfortable.  If throwing your own get together with no expectations of gifts or comps is fine with everyone in your social circle, then I don't see any reason to condemn it.

Also I'm not getting why it's so wrong for a couple to throw their own wedding- so we should now expect parents or friends to do all this for us too?  After seeing all kinds of quotes on this board condemning couples that expect parents and their attendents to pay for and plan everything I'm very suprised at your quote.  I know my friends love me, but none of them would put up the expense or the time to plan my wedding for me and I would think they were crazy if they did.   
I think kingsrings meant "wedding shower or baby shower" but it does raise an interesting point. Its ok for a couple to host their own wedding where gifts are generally given, but not ok to host their own bday party where gifts MAY be given? How does that make sense?


I'd say it's because - showers, by definition, are a gift-giving occasion.  Everyone is expected to sit there and ooh and aah over the items that the bride-to-be or the mom-to-be opens - honestly, no one would attend a shower without bringing a gift (I'm not a shower-fan, but that's the tradition).

Weddings, in themselves, are not a gift-giving occasion - guests are invited to celebrate with the couple.  Of course the great majority do bring a gift, but it's customary, not required.  I'll honestly have to admit that I'm with Ehell Dame on this one - anyone past the teen years does not host his/her own birthday party.  If someone wants a party and there's no SO or family member to host one - well, that's the breaks.  Once someone accumulates a few decade's worth of birthdays, they're really not that important.

Shores

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7668
  • F.O.E.
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #48 on: August 03, 2007, 02:36:42 AM »
I still think people are stuck on the American way of doing things and since its the American way, it must be the right way. Even the "evidence" quoted starts "Americans are entertaining less and less."
Wherever you go.... there you are.

magdalena

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5517
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #49 on: August 03, 2007, 04:27:39 AM »
What an interesting thread!

When I first read about the rudeness of throwing your own birthday party on this site some time ago, I was really surprised! It would never have occured to me that someone might see it as rude.
That just goes to show how well engrained our culture is in us - even though I have spend a relatively long period in North America before, this had never really gotten through to me.

Here in Germany, the customs and etiquette of birthdays are quite the opposite (and pretty much the same as in the Netherlands from what Shores has been saying):
you are supposed to throw your own party.

Just to demonstrate:
My very well-mannered grandma-in-law plans and throws her own birthday party every year and her well-mannered friends and relatives all come happily and no one would ever think her rude for doing this - at her age (94 this year) it would be understood if she decided to skip the party, but she says she'd feel so rude not organizing anything...

I've been invited to two 30th birthday parties this summer. Both organized by the birthday girl.

I'll be turning 30 next year (as will by husband). Were we to just sit around and expect someone else to throw us a party, not only would there be no party, but our friends and family would be surprised and disappointed, wondering when we lost our generosity  ;)
(Yes, if you organize a party, you pay for everything, you truly host your guests and no gifts are expected, even though there are likely to be some, smaller, token gifts from close friends)

So, while I believe it's rude and gift grabby to throw your own party in the American culture, it certainly isn't everywhere else.



Akarui Kibuno

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2646
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #50 on: August 03, 2007, 07:03:41 AM »
EHellDame, as far as I'm concerned, my issue was more with "greedy suckers" and the other term you used to describe people who do these things.

Because, see, I'm sure now the site has expanded beyond the limits of the etiquette you know and follow.

Being snarky is just fine. Being insulting to others who may not have the same culture or way of doing things is not. That you think one should not do X or Y is just fine, and it's an honest thing to say. That you think someone is a greedy sucker for doing X or Y without info, is a rude and offensive term to use.

My FB rants blog (English) - My personal site (French)
A click on one of the ads every so often would help a lot if possible. Thank you <3 .

Ehelldame

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
  • I'm evil personified to the terminally crass.
    • Etiquette Hell
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #51 on: August 03, 2007, 07:09:53 AM »

Here in Germany, the customs and etiquette of birthdays are quite the opposite (and pretty much the same as in the Netherlands from what Shores has been saying):
you are supposed to throw your own party.


Just curious but who are the etiquette experts in Germany and the Netherlands who advocates this?  I did a google search for European etiquette experts and repeatedly found examples of the American etiquette icons of Post, Baldrige and Miss Manners being referenced in articles about European etiquette.  It would appear that American etiquette experts are defining what is good etiquette beyond the borders of North America. 

Quote
I'll be turning 30 next year (as will by husband). Were we to just sit around and expect someone else to throw us a party, not only would there be no party, but our friends and family would be surprised and disappointed, wondering when we lost our generosity  ;)
(Yes, if you organize a party, you pay for everything, you truly host your guests and no gifts are expected, even though there are likely to be some, smaller, token gifts from close friends)

However, in the article by Miss Manners and the book by Letitia Baldrige I referenced earlier, neither really mentions the gift grabbiness of an adult hosting their own birthday party but rather the focus is on the host/honoree being the center of attention.  How are the fundamental principles that Baldrige and Martin are espousing not applicable to everyone, regardless of culture?  If people host their own birthday parties but not for others, how is that "looking outside" oneself?  Regardless of the culture, it is still emphasizing a self-centeredness to bring attention and honor upon oneself while failing to extend honor and attention to others.  Particularly if birthdays are so important to people that they feel compelled to host their own parties...why, oh, why haven't friends and family taken notice of this and stepped up to honor the person with a party they *know* will be appreciated?

And to be honest, it doesn't surprise me that selfishness and attention grabbing can be inculcated into a culture and thus become acceptable.  Selfishness is the path of least resistance as opposed to the harder task of stepping outside oneself to serve others, to be humble in focussing the attention away from oneself onto to others, and extending the effort to honor someone.   To "honor" requires action and merely sending "honor vibes" on someone's birthday doesn't cut it.


Shores

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7668
  • F.O.E.
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #52 on: August 03, 2007, 07:24:13 AM »

Here in Germany, the customs and etiquette of birthdays are quite the opposite (and pretty much the same as in the Netherlands from what Shores has been saying):
you are supposed to throw your own party.


Just curious but who are the etiquette experts in Germany and the Netherlands who advocates this?  I did a google search for European etiquette experts and repeatedly found examples of the American etiquette icons of Post, Baldrige and Miss Manners being referenced in articles about European etiquette.  It would appear that American etiquette experts are defining what is good etiquette beyond the borders of North America. 

Oh, do you speak Dutch and German? Because it would seem obvious to me that an etiquette site in English is probably written from a non-native's point of view. I'd try "verjaardagspartij" and a dictionary if you truly want to search for information about Dutch birthdays. However, you really wont find anything on the internet because there just isnt NEARLY the online wealth of information from NL as there is from other countries. I can, however, reccomend a number of etiquette books for you, all in Dutch, I'm afraid. One good English one would be "The Undutchables." Very tongue-in-cheek, but written by a Dutch person and it gives it very good overview of Dutch culture and etiquette. For instance, its rude here to eat with your fork facing up and with one hand below table level. You should eat with your fork in the lefthand (if your righthanded) and your knife in the right hand, with both hands above table level at all times. Am I to start telling people in nice restuarants that they're being rude because American etiquette experts are going ot be defining proper behaviour from now on? Or write to the author of the Wedding Etiquette book I'm currently reading (also in Dutch, I'm afraid) and tell her that she's just a boor because the American experts say differently? Are we all to be homogenized now?
Wherever you go.... there you are.

Ehelldame

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
  • I'm evil personified to the terminally crass.
    • Etiquette Hell
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #53 on: August 03, 2007, 07:25:15 AM »
EHellDame, as far as I'm concerned, my issue was more with "greedy suckers" and the other term you used to describe people who do these things.

Because, see, I'm sure now the site has expanded beyond the limits of the etiquette you know and follow.

Being snarky is just fine. Being insulting to others who may not have the same culture or way of doing things is not. That you think one should not do X or Y is just fine, and it's an honest thing to say. That you think someone is a greedy sucker for doing X or Y without info, is a rude and offensive term to use.



My comment regarding "greedy suckers" was in the context of someone needing a birthday party every.single.year.   I'm not going to repeat myself in post to post, read my previous post to this one about the application of basic etiquette principles across all cultural lines.  Someone can be just as "greedy" about needing to be honored, to be the center of attention on an annual basis as someone who is greedy for material possessions. 

Rather than ranting about me, can you make a cogent rebuttal to the comments and opinions of both Miss Manners and Letitia Baldrige that I presented previously?  How is hosting one's own birthday party NOT attention grabbing and focusing the honor on oneself?  If one never honors others by hosting birthday parties for them, how is that not "thinking inside oneself"? 

I'm waiting in this thread for someone who has advocated self-hosted birthday parties to step forward and claim they also host birthday parties for other as well.   

Ehelldame

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
  • I'm evil personified to the terminally crass.
    • Etiquette Hell
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #54 on: August 03, 2007, 07:33:51 AM »
Are we all to be homogenized now?

Note regarding Dutch etiquette books, can you please quote and reference a Dutch etiquette expert on the topic of discussion?  A lot of people claim North American etiquette is such and so but which conflicts 100% with what etiquette mavens such as Martin, Post and Baldrige advocate.  I've given you my references, no fair not giving me yours.  :)

As for homogenization, I view fundamental points of etiquette as addressing issues of human nature regardless of culture.  Explain to me how hosting your own birthday is NOT drawing attention and honor upon yourself?  I don't see how anyone can claim it is not.   

Miss Manners has a pretty simple solution to wanting to have guests celebrate your birthday.  You invite them without telling them it's a birthday party.  That eliminates the compulsion guests may have to bring gifts, etc.  And it certainly de-emphasizes the focus of the party being the honoring of the host(ess).  If one has to announce that the party is in celebration of one's birthday, is that not evidence of a basic human need to draw attention to oneself? 

Shores

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7668
  • F.O.E.
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #55 on: August 03, 2007, 07:46:49 AM »
Are we all to be homogenized now?

Note regarding Dutch etiquette books, can you please quote and reference a Dutch etiquette expert on the topic of discussion? 
I will be glad too, but it require someone with a greater command of the language than myself, so it'll be a few hours. However, as I clearly explained in the previous post, you dont have an abundance of website originating from The Netherlands. Its a rather small country. So, while I can direct you to some etiquette books, you'd probably have to hunt down physical copies to read them. There is a website http://www.beatrijs.com/ about modern Dutch etiquette and while I can't pinpoint a specific thing on there that defines who should host a birthday party, if you go to the section on birthday parties, you'll see that every question posed to her starts with "I'm throwing a birthday party (Binnenkort wil ik een verjaardagsfeestje geven)" or some variation of this. As it is perfectly acceptable in Dutch etiquette, you'll see that the author never mentions that part at all.

I havent seen anyone claim thats its NOT drawing attention to yourself. However, that doesnt make it RUDE. When you throw a Christmas party, are you not drawing attention to yourself? Does anyone doubt who the host is? Who decorated the house so nicely? Who made that delicious pie? Its an evening OF recognition. However, here, birthdays are also about recognizing your loved ones. You HAVE a birthday because of your parents. You HAVE a good life because of your family and friends. Therefore, when its your birthday, its your turn to thank them. You cook a fabulous meal, you invited them over, you spend a few hours socializing. If you get gifts, its usually somethign small from your close family and entirely not the point. The point is that Congratulations are extended to your family and friends and thanks for you to them.

No, they don't throw birthday parties for each other. Sometimes it happens, expeccially for an older person who's incapable of hosting their own, for children too young to host their own, or for major milestones, a surprise party will be planned, but in generall, no. When its your birthday, its YOUR turn to celebrate those in your life. Its the same as giving your mother something on Mother's Day. Its a thank you from the birthday person to their loved ones.

ETA: The author of that website does list EHell in her links section, amusingly. :)
Wherever you go.... there you are.

magdalena

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5517
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #56 on: August 03, 2007, 09:11:28 AM »
Just curious but who are the etiquette experts in Germany and the Netherlands who advocates this?  I did a google search for European etiquette experts and repeatedly found examples of the American etiquette icons of Post, Baldrige and Miss Manners being referenced in articles about European etiquette.  It would appear that American etiquette experts are defining what is good etiquette beyond the borders of North America. 

Quote
I'll be turning 30 next year (as will by husband). Were we to just sit around and expect someone else to throw us a party, not only would there be no party, but our friends and family would be surprised and disappointed, wondering when we lost our generosity  ;)
(Yes, if you organize a party, you pay for everything, you truly host your guests and no gifts are expected, even though there are likely to be some, smaller, token gifts from close friends)

However, in the article by Miss Manners and the book by Letitia Baldrige I referenced earlier, neither really mentions the gift grabbiness of an adult hosting their own birthday party but rather the focus is on the host/honoree being the center of attention.  How are the fundamental principles that Baldrige and Martin are espousing not applicable to everyone, regardless of culture?  If people host their own birthday parties but not for others, how is that "looking outside" oneself?  Regardless of the culture, it is still emphasizing a self-centeredness to bring attention and honor upon oneself while failing to extend honor and attention to others.  Particularly if birthdays are so important to people that they feel compelled to host their own parties...why, oh, why haven't friends and family taken notice of this and stepped up to honor the person with a party they *know* will be appreciated?

And to be honest, it doesn't surprise me that selfishness and attention grabbing can be inculcated into a culture and thus become acceptable.  Selfishness is the path of least resistance as opposed to the harder task of stepping outside oneself to serve others, to be humble in focussing the attention away from oneself onto to others, and extending the effort to honor someone.   To "honor" requires action and merely sending "honor vibes" on someone's birthday doesn't cut it.



I'll be doing a more thorough search on German sources next week, as I'm off to celebrate my husband's birthday with his parents and grandmother  ;) No, we're not throwing a party this time around, I just baked a cake we're taking alon and his mom has asked grandma to come over for coffee and cake on Sunday, as usual.

I did have a quick look at Knigge, which is the best known German etiquette book and it does mention making invitations for birthday parties, and it seems those are meant for your own party.

But, as I said, I only had a moment to look at this and since I find it really, really interesting, I'll be looking into it with more detail later on, and I promise I'll report back with whatever results I get.

It would seem to me that the point of view simply is different. A party I'd host on my birthday would not be seen as being all about me but as being my way of treating my friends and family to something nice.  It's not thought as me honoring me, but as me honoring those who've been with me....

Naturally selfishness is not seen as something positive over here. It just is demonstrated in a different way and many very selfless people would be embarrased if someone else went through all that trouble to organize a party. THAT would feel like taking advantage of others. (I know it's not, but as it's not customary at all, it would feel like that to many).
I really have a feeling that this is more about customs than selfishness, things can be done in many ways and there are many different ways to be gracious, selfless and appreciative of others. Telling my parents and inlaws that I'd love to take them out for dinner on my birthday to thank them for having raised me and that amazing husband of mine does not seem selfish to me. Having my grandma-in-law ask me over on her birthday and serve me yummy little sandwiches and champagne to celebrate life doesn't seem bad.

To add: it would appear rude and quite cheap of me to my friends and family, if for my 30th birthday I did not organize anything.
Yes, it'd be seen a little self-centered if I kept throwing huge parties every year. But the mile-stones, if I didn't do anything it would be regarded as weird at best.

I'll be back with a more detailed (and hopefully better formulated) answer later.

Oh, btw, as hubby and I have birthdays really close to each other, would it be different if we each host a party for the other one? Only happening to take place on the same day *grin*

Edited to add and clarify
« Last Edit: August 03, 2007, 09:27:52 AM by magdalena »



magdalena

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5517
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #57 on: August 03, 2007, 09:35:19 AM »
I had a quick look again at Knigge (there's a site www.stil.de that quotes the book a lot, that's the standard etiquette&manners book in Germany) and indeed, even there you can find tipps and ideas for making your birthday party invitations.
Mainly the book as well as most sites I found in my quick search (there aren't as many as in English) concentrate on table manners, addressing people, using Sie/Du etc. and less on this kind of matters.



Squeaks

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5026
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #58 on: August 03, 2007, 09:44:22 AM »
I have to admit that I was a bit hurt by Ehelldame's post actually.


I have always had trouble making friends.  I am insecure, timid, not very social (I don't want a huge group or to go out constantly with lots of people) and often not in good positions to meet friends.


I also have no family in the area. So yeah I am one of those pathetic people who does not get honored. No i do not try to do my own, but still her post was a bit hurtfull to me. That i am not good enough to have parties thrown for me. Gee thanks, i think ill go sit in the corner and be lonely. 

Shores

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7668
  • F.O.E.
Re: Rude Everyone on Birthdays (From the New Update)
« Reply #59 on: August 03, 2007, 09:46:25 AM »
To add: it would appear rude and quite cheap of me to my friends and family, if for my 30th birthday I did not organize anything.
Yes, it'd be seen a little self-centered if I kept throwing huge parties every year. But the mile-stones, if I didn't do anything it would be regarded as weird at best.
Ya know, I also wonder if the concept of "party" is getting lost in cultural translation. When people here throw a "party" for their birthday each year, its really a very lowkey affair. Its making food, buying a cake and inviting your family and close friends over and I'm willing to bet its the same in Germany. Its hardly a 4star catered, glittering, 100s of people milling around in evening gowns gushing about the birthday person affair. I think the largest party I've been to here was about 30 people and THAT was for a child turning 1 year old. THe largest adult party here was about 15 people. The birthday woman's husband, 3 children, 2 SOs, 1 granddaughter, 2 sets of neighbors, 1 couple that has been family friends for years and the birthday person's 80 year old mother. We ate dinner, drank coffee, sang one round of THE most annoying birthday song I've evr heard in any country and chatted. Hardly a "look at meeeeeee" evening from MIL.
Wherever you go.... there you are.