Seeing Abraham & Sarah

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.

Origin

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.

Celebrating

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.

Beyond 50

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