I have just celebrated my third birthday in Madagascar, and though this one was spent amongst other volunteers it reminded me of celebrations in the past.  Like everywhere, celebrations are big here in Madagascar, but they are not celebrated entirely the same.  Take birthdays for example.  Had I had this last birthday with my Malagasy friends in Vondrozo it would be expected that I buy all the drinks and snacks for the party, where in the United States you would expect that, though you may provide a lot for the party, those in attendance would also provide things (namely drinks). 
Graduation Party
Here is another example.  When I was leaving Vondrozo to start my new job with Peace Corps in Diego my school wanted to throw me a going away party to thank me for my service.  Throwing me a party meant that I had to find a venue (a classroom at my school; easy), find someone to play music as background noise and later dancing (my laptop, speakers, and a friend; done), and provide all the drinks and snacks (at a fairly hefty price).  
My going away party at my High School
That is not to say that all celebrations are not, at least in some part, compensated for by the guests.  In most cultural celebrations the guests bring small gifts in the form of money in an envelope to give to the person/family throwing the party.  This gift is a form of congratulations to the person who is having the celebration.  In the Southeast the biggest celebration is the circumcision (you can read about the first one I attended at my site here or about the biggest celebration, Sambatra, here).  During this celebration the family of the boy provide all of the food, drinks, and entertainment for the party but those who attend usually arrive with a small gift of money.  
Circumcision Party in Vondrozo
Sambatra in Mananjary

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