Notable Coming of Age Traditions for Girls

Young girl walking hand in hand with her parents.

In different countries of the world, people celebrate specific types of coming of age traditions for girls. (Image: via Piklist)

Both boys and girls enter puberty as they proceed toward adulthood. In different countries of the world, people celebrate specific types of coming of age traditions for girls. They undergo and experience several mental and physiological changes in these years. For a girl, entering puberty can be a difficult experience. Having periods and witnessing changes in the body can be mentally unsettling for some girls as well. Gone were those days when women found it hard to talk about psychological and sexual topics. While there are cultures where women are still not expected to speak openly on these issues, things have changed for the better.

The importance of celebrating girls attaining puberty

For an adolescent girl, experiencing their first period may seem embarrassing and scary. That is a reason why people in various countries adhere to certain norms and rituals for making it easy for such girls to embrace womanhood. The norms vary from one culture to another, though. In some countries, the rituals involve eating special dishes and beverages, while in some countries, the families engage in celebrations.

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Different countries have different coming of age traditions for girls.
For a girl, entering puberty can be a difficult experience. It’s important to support our daughters through this process in many different ways. (Image: Kiriill Ryzhov via Dreamstime)

Coming of age traditions in different countries around the world

South India

This may seem unexpected, but in India, some girls are ostracized for entering puberty. However, in the Tamil culture and others in the south, the girls are not ostracized, but are revered and blessed. The family arranges a celebration where the close relatives usually bathe the girl reaching puberty and then she is given a nutritious meal. She is bathed again and made to wear a new garment. She is also blessed with gifts. The priests perform a number of rituals and relatives are invited too.

Smiling Tamil Girl with flowers in her hair.
The family arranges a celebration where the close relatives usually bathe the girl reaching puberty and then she is given a nutritious meal. (Image: Marbenzu via Dreamstime)

South Africa

In South Africa, the family in which a girl reaches puberty throws a grand party. The girl is given many gifts from relatives and close friends. She must stay indoors for three days of the period and she is not supposed to meet children or men. 

Decorative gift box with a white bow ribbon.
The girl is given many gifts from relatives and close friends. (Image: Ton Photographer via Dreamstime)

Japan

When a girl attains puberty in Japan, her mother prepares Sekihan, which is a traditional dish made of red beans and sticky rice. The entire family enjoys a meal together and must guess if the young woman has begun this transformational process. 

Sekihan (top right) in a bento box with assorted Japanese food.
Sekihan (top right) in a bento box with assorted Japanese food. (Image: allegro Takahi via Flickr)

The Philippines

In the Philippines, the mother of the girl attaining puberty washes the blood-stained clothing in water. She applies the water to the face of her daughter with the thought that it will reduce pimples in the future. The girl jumps three steps to symbolize the number of days she will experience her period.

Girl in white shoes walks down steps.
The girl jumps three steps to symbolize the number of days she will experience her period. (Image: Antonio Guillem via Dreamstime)

Croatia

The Croatian custom for celebrating stepping into womanhood is nice. In this country, girls entering puberty are offered a glass of red wine. The other members of the family also enjoy some wine with the girl. 

Two people hold glasses of red wine at a wine tasting event.
In Croatia, girls entering puberty are offered a glass of red wine. (Image: via Pxfuel)

Canada

In Canada, the norm for celebrating girls reaching puberty is a tad different. The girls stepping into womanhood can’t eat berries for a year. However, they can collect, store and preserve berries. After a year, they can eat the berries, and this symbolizes stepping into womanhood. 

Two handfuls of strawberries.
In Canada, girls stepping into womanhood can’t eat berries for a year. (Image: via Pxfuel)

Latin America

In countries like Mexico and Argentina, girls reaching 15 are pampered with a celebration. They are blessed in churches and the relatives arrange a party known as a Quinceañera. The girl wears a lovely big dress and in some cases is given high heels to wear on the day. The event is often on par with a wedding.

People jumping for a photo at a Quinceañera celebration.
Quinceañera celebration in Santa Fe. (Image: Christopher Michel via Wikimedia Commons)

Macedonia

In Macedonia, young girls reaching puberty are asked to clean their own bloodstained garments. The belief is this will yield good luck for those girls in the future. 

Girl blowing dandelion seeds against a blue sky.
The belief is this will yield good luck for those girls in the future. (Image: Taiga via Dreamstime)

Brazil

In Brazil, when a girl reaches puberty, all her relatives are informed of a celebration known as Festa de Debutantes. Similar to many other Latin American traditions, the celebration is held on the girl’s 15th birthday. Many family and friends are invited to take part. The girl dances with members of her family and a boy of her own age.

Father and Daughter Dance at the Festa de Debutantes.
Father and daughter dance at her coming of age celebration. (Image: Aécio Neves via Flickr)

Italy

In Italy, a girl reaching puberty is called a signorina and the word denotes a young lady. Family and relatives are informed to help celebrate and support the girl’s transition to womanhood. 

Smiling woman running ina red summer dress.
In Italy, a girl reaching puberty is called a signorina and the word denotes a young lady. (Image: Martinmark via Dreamstime)

Iceland

In Iceland, people do not perform any unusual ritual when a girl reaches puberty. Sometimes, the mother bakes a beautiful white and red cake to symbolize her daughter stepping into maturity.

Red velvet cake with coconut on a white plate.
Sometimes, the mother bakes a beautiful white and red cake to symbolize her daughter stepping into maturity. (Image: Msheldrake via Dreamstime)

Israel

For the girls in Israel, the ritual is sweet. They are asked to lick honey from a spoon. The belief being that their future periods will be without hassles.

Honey pouring down from a spoon.
Girls in Israel are asked to lick honey from a spoon. (Image: via Pxfuel)

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