“We see much, observe little, and perceive less” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Erna Goytar by ©Joel Robison

Image © Joel Robison

An Interview with Erna

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. I used to celebrate my birthdays with my family. I am not really the person who goes out partying and go wild, so my memories are definitely family related. Because my birthday is the first day of Spring(most of the time it falls under that) they call me the ‘Spring Fairy’ :) it is also the time when the flowers are out and I would get spring flowers and it would fill the room with their lovely scent. We would also go to maybe see the Snowdrops in the Mountains (when I was really young) to have a picnic too.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. When I moved to the UK it was quite hard to break the routine and celebrate my birthday without my family. 

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A.  It may sound silly but the most surprising was a ticket to see Take That in Munich when I was about 13.  And my colleagues surprised me at work when I turned 30 :)

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist in eating during your birthday celebration?

A. I don’t really have that. My Great Grandmother started making me Lemon Cake and from then I really wanted lemon cake every year…nowadays I looove Tiramisu so I ask for that.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. As I mentioned it above, being with family is important, to be surrounded by the people who love me. My Mum has brought me up (my parents divorced) and looked after me so that is the time also when I think about how much she did for me and [has] been there for me good or bad. And of course without her I wouldn’t be here and alive. :) I also think it is the time when we can look back what changed over the years….something like New Year

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. We would have a big family gathering at home (maybe about 15 of us),  eat some nice food, have a catch up (would see people I havent seen for months) wait for the cake, blow out the candles! Yes, that’s important…maybe pretend I am doing it too so they can take photos! We would have lots of pictures opening presents and of course would eat cake and Grandmother’s baking. I think I have included everything but I may remember some other things later on.