A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, recreation, or as part of a festival or other commemoration or celebration of a special occasion.
Some parties are held in honor of a specific person, day, or event, such as a birthday party, a Super Bowl party, or a St. Patrick’s Day party. Parties of this kind are often called celebrations. A party is not necessarily a private occasion. Public parties are sometimes held in restaurants, pubs, beer gardens, nightclubs, or bars, and people attending such parties may be charged an admission fee by the host. Large parties in public streets may celebrate events such as Mardi Gras or the signing of a peace treaty ending a long war.
A birthday party is a celebration of the anniversary of the birth of the person who is being honored. The tradition started in the mid-nineteenth century but did not become popular until the mid-twentieth century. Birthday parties are now a feature of many cultures.
In Western cultures, birthday parties include a number of common rituals. The guests may be asked to bring a gift for the honored person. Party locations are often decorated with colorful decorations, such as balloons and streamers. A birthday cake is usually served with lit candles that are to be blown out after a “birthday wish” has been made. The person being honored will be given the first piece of cake. While the birthday cake is being brought to the table, the song “Happy Birthday to You” or some other birthday song is sung by the guests.
A surprise party is a party that is not made known beforehand to the person in whose honor it is being held.
Birthday surprise parties are the most common kind of surprise party. At most such parties, the guests will arrive an hour or so before the honored person arrives. Often, a friend in on the surprise will lead the honored person to the location of the party without letting on anything.
The guests might even conceal themselves from view, and when the honored person enters the room, they leap from hiding and all shout, “Surprise!” For some surprise birthday parties, it is considered to be a good tactic to shock the honored person. Streamers, silly string, and balloons may be used for this purpose. Evidence of a party, such as decorations and balloons, are not made visible from the exterior of the home, so that the person honored will suspect nothing.
A garden party is a party in a park or a garden. An event described as a garden party is usually more formal than other outdoor gatherings, which may be called simply parties, picnics, barbecues, etc. A garden party can be a prestigious event. For example, invitations by the British Sovereign to garden parties at Buckingham Palace or at the Palace of Holyroodhouse (in Scotland) are considered an honor. The President of France holds a garden party at the Palais de l’Elysée in Paris on Bastille Day.
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