French Boys' Clothing for Parties: Birthdays


Figure 1.--Belgian illustrator Marcel Marlier drew this illustration of a rather formal birthday party in France during 1969. The children are dressed formally and even the boys greet the birthday girl with a little peck on the cheek.

We have little information about the custom of birthday parties in France. We do not know when birthday parties became common events in France and when children began bringing presents. One drawing from famed Belgian illustrator Marcel Marlier shows children exchanging presents. This look similar to American birthday parties with the guests bringing the birthday child gifts. American birthday parties also used to be formal affairs, but this was less common by 1969. The party depicted here looks a little formal. This formality could be just Marlier's rather idealized style of drawing children. One interesting aspect is the children's greeting kissing each other on the cheek. This is presumably common in France. It would be very unsual for American children to kiss like that as a greeting, even if they were close friends. American boys in particular and in fact for school age children up to about 11, birthday parties are often largely single gender affairs.

A French reader writes, "In France the greeting kissing is very common. When is concerning the children , the were some rules, which also common aply. (I already explained several rules the good manners pages.) When we are invited and come into the familly; all both men and women kiss the children less 12 years old, and the child must to give a kiss in return. About the baby we prefer give a little kiss on his head or his hand . In my time, the persons out the familly should ask for to kiss us ( except the important person ) and the demand was: " Puis-je donner un baiser Charles?" That happened very offten ; ourself child hadn't to give any kiss in return. This rule might to be respected by the people , so when they wasn't our mother or others parents close of us, the people couldn't kiss us."







HBC





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Created: October 8, 2002
Last updated: Mrch 14, 2004