Newborn? Put a stork in your garden.

The Netherlands are known for so many peculiar things: eating tons of liquorice, biking everywhere, having a birthday calendar in the toilet, and so much more. These probably all sound familiar, but do you know what the Dutch do with their gardens on special occasions? Everything really: For every occasion that’s worth sharing with the whole neighbourhood there is a special thing.

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Firstly when you’re born, your parents will put a stork in their front garden with either blue or pink flags in front of the window to make sure everyone knows your gender. Back in the day, they simply put a wooden stork in front of the house but nowadays they’ve become a bit more creative, and make it appear as if the stork has crashed into the window. Hi-larious.

The next step in life that requires something extra in the garden is your high school graduation. It is the day when the flag goes out especially for you (together with all the other fellow graduates in the neighborhood). This doesn’t sound too special, but to show that in your house the flag is out because of a graduation, you hang your school bag with it. This all will ensure a whole lot of honking from cars passing by.

Up next is the wedding (if you’re lucky enough to find someone, that is). All the decorations will probably happen at your own house, because living with your parents when you’re getting married is not the most beneficial situation. Anyways, this is probably rather comparable with the rest of the world. A bow kind of construction made of white balloons, nothing too peculiar. But then it happens again for all the special anniversaries. First at 12,5 years, then 25 years, and from then on every year is worth a decorated garden, cause that’s simply impressive (that doesn’t really happen though, only at 50 and 60 years).

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I discovered all this when my mother turned 50 the other day. I told my colleagues that my family decorated the garden for her, and the reactions I got were weird facial expressions. What we, Dutch, do when someone turns 50 is probably the most extraordinary of all. We put dolls in the garden, put up self-made banners, and then surprise the ‘Abraham or Sarah’ with it the morning of their birthday.

So all in all, another weird habit of the Dutch. I’m curious to see what you think is the weirdest and whether maybe there is something similar in your country. Let me know in the comments below.


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