Wait, was that a period? Rites Of Passage

How other cultures celebrate menstruation

Each culture has a different ways in celebrating a girl’s first experience in becoming a woman pertaining to their first menstruation. It can be a joyful four-day celebration which includes all family to being separated from the opposite sex for weeks to being a harrowing experience where something is taken away from you. Here is a look at a few!

Menarche: A term for a girl’s first menstrual cycle:

This is a time where the mother has the role to prepare her daughter for womanhood. This is a special time where the mother and daughter bond and create their own celebration.

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The Apache Sunrise Ceremony:

This is a four day ceremony where girls come together soon after their first menstruation to perform sacramental dances, songs, and enactments in order to embrace their role to womanhood.


Tukana Tribe, Northwest Amazon, Festa das Mocas Novas:

This is a ceremony that starts within 12 weeks of first menstruation where a girl is in seclusion for two days hiding from dangerous demons and then emerges to destroy the demons with her family and then celebrate.


Okrika Tribe, Nigeria:

This has many layers of initiation for a girl who just started menstruation. It starts with being fed rich foods in a “fatting room” to learning traditional song and dance to being striked with sticks to get rid of romantic attachments.


Islamic Tradition:

In this culture there is a name, baaligh meaning mature, when one enters adulthood but other than that there is no ceremony to celebrate. Instead it is a very private and quiet experience.


Rites of Passage for Maasai Girls in East Africa:

This is a ceremonial practice of female circumcision, a dangerous and lethal practice. It is illegal in most countries but some nomadic tribes still practice today.



Further reading:

There is a really touching book that explores a first hand account of going through this experience called Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl by Virignia Lee Barnes. You can borrow it from the Brooklyn Library!


Here is a website page with brief descriptions of other Rights of Passages around the world.




Other reading around the web:

Coming of Age Traditions

Coming of Age: Alternative Rites of Passage for Maasai Girls