Is a sweet 16th as important in the UK?
Where America leads inevitably it’s only a matter of time before the UK (and the rest of Western civilisation) follows. Stateside, sixteenth birthdays are a huge affair often resulting in lavish parties and expensive gifts for those who can afford it. With sixteen year olds becoming eligible for their driving license, a sixteenth birthday present in the US will often come on four wheels with a gift bow for any teenager with wealthy parents.
Here in the UK, with the rise in popularity of American reality TV shows and US culture, sixteenth birthday parties are rising in significance, not at all unhelped by the hit MTV show, My Super Sweet 16, documenting the over-the-top parties, tantrums and budgets of the wealthy and their teenager’s sixteenth birthday.
Anyone with a child approaching their mid teens will know that coming of age is a big deal to them, in fact they’re probably already convinced they’re a grown-up. Taking a leaf out of American books and celebrating that turning point is becoming more and more popular, it will certainly help you win some extra Brownie points with your teenager, and it’s only a matter of time before a huge party where even the preparations are over-the-top are expected. Those of us on more modest incomes can still throw a sweet sixteen bash on a smaller and tighter budget, it’s all about appearing extravagant without actually bankrupting yourself.
While your 18th and your 21st are still the more important birthdays in our culture, celebrating adulthood and the official end of childhood, sixteen is slowly creeping up behind them. For the Americans, Sweet Sixteen is about celebrating a girl’s transition into a woman, and can involve very formal rituals such as presenting the birthday girl with high-heeled shoes. The party is often a formal ball involving a special father-daughter dance and culminating in a video montage of the birthday girl. While many households can’t afford the same extravagance of the wealthy Americans, sweet sixteen in the UK is becoming about increasing maturity, a way to celebrate your child becoming one step closer to adulthood and throwing a bloomin’ good party to remember it all by.