When I was at my friend´s place in Den Haag I saw an old man sitting outside on a chair. I was surprised because it was cold and raining and I was wondering why he didn´t go inside. But when I came closer I saw it was not a real man.
It was a life-size dummy dressed in old clothes, fake hair and a cap. And behind the dummy, just in front of the house there was a banner with the legend ‘drie maal toeteren, want Henk is 50 geworden vandaag’, which means ‘honk three times because Henk has turned 50 today.’
My friend explained to me that it is a tradition in the Netherlands to put a dummy outside when somebody turns 50 years old. For a man they call it Abraham and for a woman they call it Sarah. He also told me that in general people who turn 50 don’t really like to see a dummy sitting in front of the door.
In Mexico we don’t have those kinds of traditions; maybe people would consider that as offensive and not respectful towards elder people. When a person turns 50, we have a small birthday celebration just like any other, with the family and close friends. There are some cakes with candles and some food as well. Most celebrations for older people are anniversaries for 25 or 50 years of marriage. These can be really big parties, almost like an actual wedding. People consider those anniversaries as a proud moment because their parents and grandparents remain together and because they are still healthy enough to enjoy the celebration.
Adrian Procopio, Mexican MSc student of Plant Sciences