The age at which you are considered an adult differs greatly from country to country, religion to religion and tribe to tribe. In some cases it is a accompanied by a change in legal status - such as being able to vote etc, but many more are simply symbolic - but still of import and significance. Our world is a wealth of diverse cultures so the coming of age ceremonies around the world reflect that.
Table of contents:
- united states of america
- sri lanka
- latin america
- sioux/ihanktonwan oyate reservation
- south korea
- the philippines
- inuit population
1 United States of America
The sweet sixteen is arguably the biggest coming of age moment for any teenage girl in North America. This milestone age is most often celebrated by the throwing of a big party for the birthday girl’s friends and family, often accompanied by the gift of a first car.
In Ghana, women of the Krobo tribe take part in a two day ceremony called Dipo where they are bathed, given sugar cane to eat, and then leave their village for a week of confinement where they are taught about childbirth and several other aspect of womanhood and motherhood. They then return with full body paint decoration.
In Indonesia, girls who have already had their first period go through a process called mepandes in which involved removing the sharp edges of their teeth and filling their front teeth flat as a symbol of ridding themselves of things like lust, anger, greed and jealousy.
4 Sri Lanka
In the Tamil population, girls who haven their first period are then considered women, and on the very first day they are kept in isolation, given a huge meal and given gifts of jewelry and nice clothing. Their first makeup session is also part of the ritual - very glamorous.
One of China’s Confucian coming of age ceremonies is called Ji Li, and involves a Han woman aged 15 to 20 dressing in traditional Chinese clothing and taking part in a hair washing and styling ceremony.
6 Latin America
The biggest coming of age ceremony for a girl in Latin America is her quinceanera, which involves a huge party and church blessing when she turns 15 years old. It goes by various names in countries across Latin America.
Japan’s official Coming of Age Day - Seijin-no-Hi - is always the second Monday in January, and is celebrated by men and women who have turned 20. It involves government-organised celebrations and the female participants wear long sleeved kimonos with fur lining.
People of the Jewish faith all over the world with celebrate a Bar or Bat Mitzvah when they turn 12 or 13. It is seen as an acceptance in to the Jewish faith and is celebrated with a church ceremony and a big party afterwards.
9 Sioux/Ihanktonwan Oyate Reservation
This reservation in South Dakota holds a four day ceremony for girls who have started their period which involves the girls going to "moon camp" - staying in a special tee-pee together and being fed and watered by other women: they are not allowed to do it themselves.
10 South Korea
Every third Monday in May, men and women in South Korea who have recently turned 20 have a mass celebration - known as Gwan Rye - to mark entering in to adulthood. National dress is worn and roses and kisses are given out!
In the Amish community, young people go through Rumspringa, a period in which they leave the community and live in the ‘modern world’ for a time before deciding whether or not they want to go back to the Amish way of life.
In Mali, young Fulani women are ushered in to adulthood via the process of Tchoodi - facial tattoos, most often around their lip area.
Native American Apaches have the Sunrise Ceremony that lasts for four days. Girls who have started their period take part in a series of activities including changing, praying, face painting and running.
14 The Philippines
Filipino girls who turn 18 have a ‘debut’, which is something very similar to an American sweet sixteen or a Latina quinceanera.
In the depths of the Brazilian Amazon, young boys in certain tribes are welcomed to manhood via the process of living through the intense pain of a bullet ant bite!
16 Inuit Population
When they reach 11 or 12, Inuit boys go out in to the wilderness to test their hunting skills with their fathers to try to survive the brutal arctic conditions.
In Malaysia, a Muslim girl’s 11th birthday marks her coming of age. In the Khatam Al Koran ceremony they attend mosque and read a special chapter of the Koran before celebrating with family and friends at a private ceremony.
Young male members of the Maasai tribe mark their coming of age and entrance to the warrior class by sleeping out together in the forest the night before they are circumcised; a traditional symbol of moving from boyhood to adulthood.
In Ethiopia, before a young man is able to marry, he must first prove his worth by jumping over a cow four times whilst naked!
Young men on the small island of Vanuatu enter in to adulthood by jumping off a 100 feet high tower with a bungee cord made from vines attached to their ankles!
Certain Aboriginal communities in Australia will send their teenage boys out in to the outback and ask them to survive alone for anything up to six months. It's known as the "Walkabout".
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