I haven’t been to a Moroccan wedding yet, but I have now been to a Moroccan birthday party.
Yesterday was my host sister’s birthday; she turned 22 years old. In addition to her birthday, a few days ago was the birthday of my host dad’s brother’s grandson, who turned 9. The result was a house full of people and a ridiculous amount of cake and candy – in general a good time had by all.
My host dad’s brother, my host uncle, lives in a nearby town, I think, but has been staying with us at the house for about a week now. A few days ago, his son and daughter-in-law and their three kids arrived, including the birthday boy. That family lives in Spain, but came to visit because the oldest grandson and my host sister’s birthdays are so close together.
Yesterday the full party included my family, the grandkid family, my host mom’s niece’s family (who is also hosting a pair of volunteers) and a range of family friends/other relatives were all at the house.
The party began yesterday with kaskrout, or the 6 p.m. tea-time that Moroccans observe, which included bread, jam, tea, coffee, cake and cookies. Dinner came several hours later, at around 10 p.m., and was chicken cooked in a super delicious sauce that I have now decided I must learn to make sometime before leaving training. Dessert for dinner was bananas and oranges.
Then an hour or so later, the party food came out.
We had four types of cake – two from a bakery and two homemade. The first bakery cake was with thin layers of vanilla cake with a cream-type frosting topped with some sort of caramel-colored icing. The second bakery cake was more of a custardy tart topped with fruit. The first homemade cake was topped with walnuts and the second, apples.
In addition to the cake, we also had three plates of cookies, a dish of chocolates, a dish of hard candies, a dish of some weird sugar-coated candy and another “cake” made out of different types of gummy candy and marshmallows.
Basically the cakes get cut and everyone gets a little bit of everything, which results in a huge plate of dessert foods.
For drinks there were all kinds of soda and juice.
The kids were all given party hats and noise maker and the cakes were topped with these intense candles that were kind of like fireworks.
I noticed the grandson got presents, but my host sister didn’t seem to get any presents, so I’m not sure if Moroccans in general stop giving birthday presents after kids get older or if that’s just my family. I did get her a scarf I bought at the market, so I did my part to spread American birthday traditions.
After everyone had been fully caked, the party developed into a drum circle, with people pounding on tables and clapping and singing together. There was also a healthy round of jokes, which I didn’t understand in the slightest, mostly because my Darija isn’t remotely close to the point of understanding jokes and also my communicative abilities in any language are severely reduced at any time after 10 p.m.
All-in-all, Moroccan birthdays seem fairly similar to American birthdays. Mostly it’s people celebrating together and enjoying their families and friends in both places.