Now that Mads has had her first German Birthday, I thought I'd make some notes on things I've learned about German Birthday customs. They may be of use next year.
No Pre-Birthday Birthdays
Maybe I'm wrong here, but my feeling is that in Australia if you are going to have a 'do' for a Birthday you choose the day closest to the actual day. So, if your Birthday is on a Saturday but you want to have a cake and champers at work, you'd do it on the Friday rather than wait until the Monday because it's closer in actual days. Is that right? In Germany it seems to be bad luck (or at least bad form) to pre-empt a Birthday. You don't wish people happy birthday in advance and you can't take a cake to the kindergarten before the day.
Also, I discovered to my horror, you are expected to bake a cake for your child's kindergarten birthday. Explaining that you are a terrible cook and the cake will be very flat makes no difference. You have to do it anyway.
I must admit I used to chortle whenever I saw people walking around carrying their cakes in one of these. I guess they are probably available in Australia, I'd just never seen one before. Maybe we are a nation that simply doesn't transport cakes much or maybe it's more about my own deliberate avoidance of cake-making or carrying. But when I realised there was no way out of making a cake for the kindergarten, I borrowed one of these transporters from someone and frankly, it was great. The cake barely moved as I swung it around, although that could have been because the cake was about 5 centimetres high and somewhat heavy. Still. It did make the train trip easier and the cloudy plastic stopped people from being able to see just how flat my cake was.
I've noticed that a lot of the big department stores here have a system where a kid who is about to have a birthday is given one of the store's plastic tubs to fill up with all the things they'd like their guests to give them. Then the tub is labelled and left in a shelf so that guests can come and choose things from it to give at the party. A sort of bridal registry, I guess, but for kids' gifts. Do these exist in Australia? I've not seen them.
A kid dressed up as an obscure bright red super hero with bunny ears will attract less attention at Rome Termini than you might expect.