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Fredericia through Argentinian eyes: One year older

Photo: Lilén Nahir Altamira

I don't know if you all know, but it was my birthday not so long time ago. Although this is my second birthday in Denmark, I can't get used to one specific tradition about birthdays, opening gifts in front of everybody.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe it is a lovely tradition. I do think it is something magical to see the almost nervous look in the eyes of the people - seeing if the birthday person would like the present or not; and I love the happiness they get when the gift is well received.

It is so unique when people can feel appreciated for the sweet thought and action of going around looking for a small thing to honor a person with. I can see that opening gifts in front of guests has a very special, enchanting and delightful meaning.

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Photo: Yilmaz Polat

So, obviously, we could say that the problem of me feeling uncomfortable with this Danish tradition is that I come from Argentina; where that's not something you normally do.

In my home country, when we go to a birthday party, we bring a present, we give it to the host and he or she will leave it aside until the end of the meeting. When nobody is there, the birthday person will open the presents. That is a situation that happens both in adult parties and children's parties.

Of course, there are exceptions to this behavior. For example, a certain person could approach you, give you a present and say that you should open it right away because the guest really wants to know if you like it or not and see your reaction to it. Also, if you meet with two or three friends and they give you a small thing, it's common that you open it in front of them and say thanks for the sweet thought.

The reasons why Argentinians usually don't open gifts in front of guests is because we have been taught that we need to pay more attention to the people who come to our birthday and give them the best of us. Check if they have enough snacks, cake and drinks; have a nice conversation with them and make them feel welcome and loved. If we take a moment to open presents, we would be cutting that moment of bonding.

You must be asking, so how do people know you like the gift or you appreciate it? Or maybe, how do you know who gave you what? Well… usually each present has a card with a small text and the name of the person who gives it. So, first you read the card and then you open the gift; but watch out, you have to tear the wrapping paper while opening it, so you will have good luck in the future. You show people that you like the present while wearing it when you meet them or sending a nice message to them.

I personally love cultural differences. It is so interesting to see how two countries can differ in such small things. It is even more interesting to delve into the reasons why people act in different ways and create traditions according to their ideology. I also believe that there are no right and wrong traditions; since, for each of them, there is a huge historic and cultural background that underlies its creation.

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