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Do you have any customs or habits in your country that communicate information in an unusual way?
A few weeks ago, whilst up in Leeuwarden, we discovered one about the Netherlands and had absolutely no idea what it was!
It was 12 noon on the first Monday of November, and we heard a very loud wailing siren which went off for a minute or two.
We thought it was some kind of huge factory siren, informing the workforce it was the lunch hour!
As it continued, it became a little disconcerting.
However, we needn’t have concerned ourselves too much.
A little bit of further research informed us that it was actually the Dutch emergency siren test.
It certainly caught our attention the first time we heard it.
Now we understand that it is a regular monthly test that lasts for approximately 90 seconds. All 3,800 emergency sirens throughout the Netherlands are set off simultaneously.
I also received a text message this month, which I am guessing is also some kind of test.
The monthly emergency siren test is a normal part of daily Dutch life.
It reminded me of the one o’clock gun, back home at Edinburgh Castle, which is now great for tourists.
In the late 1800’s it was an important part of aligning ships chronometers in the Firth of Forth.
Each of these customs form an important part of the structure and foundation of our societies. In some ways they provide constancy, stability, familiarity and a semblance of order and predictability to our existence and our community.
We communicate in lots of different ways.
What unusual customs do you have where you live?