When you celebrate your 50th birthday in the Netherlands, the Dutch refer to this as ‘meeting Abraham’ if you are male, or ‘meeting Sarah’ if you are female. It is a tradition that honours a person gaining wisdom through experience. It is a major birthday that many look forward to and a cause for a great party.
The tradition is taken from the Bible, particularly John 8: 56-58.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”John 8: 56-58
In this passage, Jesus is asked how he could have seen Abraham if he hadn’t yet reached fifty. He surprised the inquisitive Jews by saying, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am”.
Sarah was Abraham’s wife, hence used for females turning 50.
The Dutch have taken this Bible passage and made it into a longstanding tradition. When someone turns 50 it is a celebration of their life and all they have achieved.
One of the best known (and visible) part of the celebrations is the placing of a doll or inflatable of either Abraham or Sarah in the front garden of the person who is turning 50. It will often be accompanied with a sign just to make it 100% clear that it is someone’s 50th Birthday.
It is also common to bake a cake, bread or cookies in the shape of a male or female figure.
You can also carry on the tradition for each decade of a person’s life after 50, although not nearly as popular is Abraham and Sarah.
- 60th Birthday – “Isaac” or “Elisabeth” birthday
- 70th Birthday – “Jacob” or “Anna” birthday
- 80th Birthday – “Joseph” or “Deborah” birthday
- 90th Birthday – “Anthony” or “Ruth” birthday
- 100th Birthday – “Methuselah” or “Judith” birthday