Monday, December 13, 2010

Birthdays in Benin

Birthdays are not big celebrations in Benin. Most people don't even know when their birthday is. This makes teaching age in English class very difficult when you have children telling you that they are 18 years old and they look like they are 12. Most really have no idea how old they are!

A popular nightly TV show here is the "obituaries." They have a 15-20 minute segment of scrolling pictures (with really awful, mournful music) and the dates people died. Sounds dreadful, right? But people love it! It is common for people to have over 100 years of age when they died- 113 years old for example. We don't personally believe they were that old, but however they kept track of their age from the time they were born, that is what they believed!The oldest women in Lalo recently died and she was supposedly over 150 years old. I'm not kidding. People tell us this with a straight face. We have yet to figure out the secret to longevity in Benin!

However, our birthdays were still big celebrations! In October we celebrated Miranna's 31st and in January we celebrated Charlie's 33rd.
Below, a few pictures to document the celebrations!

1) The first of Miranna's two birthday celebration was at the village chief's house- with the 13 kids! We attempted to make a large rice krispy treat to didn't turn out so hot. Considering the Beninese had never eaten a rice krispy treat before, they still thought it was good!
2) The second event was a smaller affair with our neighbors. The youngest daughter also has an October birthday. This is the preparation of the birthday meal at our neighbor's house. This is a typical Beninese kitchen- the open back area of the house with a mud stove or fire circle.
3) Friends and neighbors singing "Happy Birthday."
4) Dancing the night away! (sidenote: notice the 2 dads in their matching track suits!).
5) Last, but not least, Charlie ringing in his 33rd year with the local beer named "33!" How appropriate!

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