Tag Archives: family ritual

Birthday Breakfast & Dinner Ritual

K: “Okay so another one that we have is when it’s somebody’s birthday, in our family, uh, for- for breakfast, they would get a choice between, um, cinnamon rolls for breakfast or donuts for breakfast, like, specifically dunkin’ donuts or like the pillsbury cinnamon rolls that you would buy at the grocery store. And then every night for dinner they got to choose a place to eat out, or like, choose what we eat for dinner.”

Interviewer: “That’s awesome! Where did the food selections come from? Like, who kind of decided that those were the food selections?”

K: “I think my mom, uh, because cinnamon rolls for breakfast or donuts for breakfast, those are like- like a big deal in the house. Like, that’s not something we do, we would normally- I mean I don’t get really hungry around breakfast time, but whenever, like, whenever we would eat breakfast it would just be waffles or a bagel or like, a piece of you know, toast. So like making cinnamon rolls or ordering donuts is like a special occasion. They’re like special breakfast foods.”

Interviewer: “And for the choosing, um, where you wanna go for dinner, is that something that’s discussed beforehand or is it like, the person no matter what is like ‘we’re going here’?”

K: “It’s pretty much your choice. Like, whenever I choose dinner, I go to, um, Potbelly’s, which is this sandwich chain that started in like Chicago and they just got a couple in North Carolina. So I just- I choose there, and I mean, someone can not like it but you don’t really have a choice because it’s not your birthday, so everyone just has to go with whatever the um, the birthday person wants to do.”

K is a current student at the University of Southern California. They spent most of their childhood in Chicago, Illinois before their family moved to North Carolina, where they currently live when not in school. In addition to birthday breakfasts, K stated that theri family would sometimes also have donuts after Mass and typically have cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast, which they thought contributed to the idea of these foods being for “big exciting occasions.” They also described that they would typically consider and eat these foods as dessert foods. For dinner, K added that their family goes to Potbelly’s outside of K’s birthday celebrations, but that they really like the food there. Now that they’re in college, K says they see it as an extra special opportunity, since they have a summer birthday and the Potbelly’s chain has no locations on the West Coast, where they go to school.

Both K’s family’s breakfast and dinner birthday rituals seem to showcase some form of ritual inversion. In the case of breakfast, foods that are typically only had for dessert are instead the main focus of the meal in order to emphasize the special nature of the occasion. In the case of dinner, what restaurant to go to or what food to each, which would perhaps otherwise be a group or family decision, is handed over to the birthday person, attributing them extra power and special status on their birthday. This ritual seems to have taken on an added meaning for K now that they attend college on the West Coast; by almost always eating at Potbelly’s, a restaurant they enjoy, K is able to reaffirm their identity ties to Chicago and North Carolina.