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Groups Plan On-Campus Birthday Bashes
posted April 17, 2007

On Friday, April 20, the Calvin campus will be alive with birthday celebrations courtesy of two different college groups.

That day, from 6 to 8 pm, the Calvin classics club SPQR will celebrate “Ab Urbe Condita” -- Latin for “from the founding of the city” -- in honor of the birthday of ancient Rome with a black-and-white themed extravaganza held in the courtyard of Hiemenga Hall.

And from 7 through 11 pm on April 20, the Mosaic floor -- a residence hall community at Calvin devoted to anti-racism and diversity -- will host, in the Commons Lecture Hall, the “Birthday Bash,” a carnival of birthdays from different cultures around the world.

Both events aim to educate and entertain.

Gloria JeaThe Birthday Bash, says Mosaic coordinator Gloria Jea, is an opportunity to play and laugh and learn about ways of saying Happy Birthday in other cultures.

The $1 admission to the event allows the partygoer to celebrate her or his birthday according to four different cultures.

“And if you’re birthday is actually the 20th of April, and you can prove it, we’ll let you in for free -- ‘cause it’s your birthday!” Jea says.

A typical celebration package could include having an ear pulled as is done in Brazil, your nose buttered as is customary in parts of Canada, or having the chair you are sitting in lifted as is traditional in Israel, Latvia and Lithuania. Some celebrants might given flowers as is done in Holland or the chance to whack a piñata, as is customary in many countries.

The bash will also feature birthday food, kazoos, birthday hats and the traditional version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

“There’s a birthday card making station, and we’ll probably be singing happy birthday several times throughout the night,” Jea says. “It’s just going to be a fun, noisy exciting atmosphere.”

Meanwhile the celebration of the birthday of Rome, which actually will be held the day prior to Rome's recognized birthday, will also feature fun, games and birthday food.

“I’m not sure what the bakers at Meijers are going to say when I ask for a cake with ‘Happy Birthday, Rome,’ on it," says SPQR president Kory Plockmeyer.

The black-and-white theme of the Roman bash, says Plockmeyer, dates back to the original celebrations of the event.

“Of the animals they would sacrifice, one would be black and the other would be white," he notes. "And they would dress up in black and white.”

Calvin's party will include no animal sacrifice! Rather the two-color theme will be applied to the food served and to the optional dress code.

The classics club also will not adhere to other traditions of the ancient Roman birthday party, Plockmeyer emphasizes.

“It was a massive celebration with lots of drinking -- which we’re cutting out, of course -- and lots of games and partying.”

Among the games will be competitions like the javelin toss that involves participants throwing a plunger across the Commons Lawn, a discus throw using Frisbees, and a toga race. Partiers will also have the opportunity to build classical architectural models from marshmallows and to enjoy SPQR’s comic pantomime of events in Roman history.

“We thought about ‘Pin the Dagger on Julius Ceasar, but we don’t know how that will go over,” Plockmeyer, who played Brutus in the SPQR’s re-enactment of the Ides of March last month, says.

All events at Ab Urbe Condita are free and more than a few are educational, an SPQR goal, says Plockmeyer.

“We just have a love of classics to instill in people,” he says.

The organization, whose Latin name stands for “the senate and the people of Rome,” also holds movie nights featuring films with classical themes and public readings of classical texts.

The Mosaic floor typically holds a big spring event, Jea says, such as last year’s salsa dance that attracted over 100 people.

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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