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Coming of Age Traditions Around the World

Growing up is often defined by milestones. From a first haircut to the first solid food being eaten, children have a lot of firsts that their families traditionally place value on. Depending on where you are in the world and what your faith is, these milestones will differ, but almost every culture has a coming of age tradition.

Here are Some of the Coming of Age Traditions around the World:

Rumspringa – Amish Coming of Age Tradition

In the Amish community, when a child is between the age of 14 to 17, they are able to engage in Rumspringa which is the Amish coming of age tradition. During it, adolescents are afforded the opportunity to engage in western norms such as partying, dressing in traditional “English” clothes, drinking alcohol and/or experimenting with recreational drugs, cutting out home prayer time and driving cars. These are behaviors for which they would normally be shunned, but they are overlooked during this time.

The idea behind Rumspringa is for young Amish people to gain a wider understanding of the world outside of their community. At the end of Rumspringa, they have the option to either return to their Amish community and be baptized, or to separate themselves from their community entirely. This differs from Catholics who are usually baptized in communion dresses in early childhood.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah – Jewish Coming of Age Tradition

When a Jewish boy turns 13 years old, he has his Bar Mitzvah celebration. When a girl turns 13, she has a Bat Mitzvah celebration. In either case, this means that the child has reached the age of maturity in the Jewish religion and they have the same obligations and duties as their elders. It is one of the biggest milestones in Judaism. It starts off with a ceremony in the synagogue, and Tefillin (leather boxed on straps with inscribed parchments from the Torah in) are then put on. For boys, at their Bar Mitzvah is the first time they will touch the Tefillin.

Following the religious ceremony, a large party is had. It is comparable to a western wedding reception with lots of food, music and dancing.

Quinceanera – Hispanic Coming of Age Tradition

Coming of Age Traditions Around the World

In Hispanic countries, when a girl turns 15 years old she celebrates her Quinceanera. It marks her transition from childhood to adulthood. The occasion begins with mass which is a small affair during which the girl, her parents and her godparents attend.

Following the mass, there is a reception which takes the form of a party. There are lots of guests, plenty of food and lots of music. There is also a traditional father-daughter dance, and other rituals such as placing a heeled shoe on the foot of the girl to mark womanhood. The traditions are changing over time, but the premise remains the same.

Hamar Cow Jumping – Ethiopian Coming of Age Tradition

The Hamar group in Ethiopia mark the transition from boyhood to manhood with a bull jumping ritual. In their culture, cattle are prized animals which is why they are selected for the coming of age tradition. The ceremony starts when a boy’s head is shaved and he is dusted with sand to rid his body of sins. He is then covered in dung which is believed to offer strength. Finally, tree bark is attached around his chest for protection.

Following this, he must leap over a row of cows four times. If he does it successfully, he will be able to get married and rear his own cattle. If he fails, he will shame his family and must try again the next year. The age at which this ceremony takes place depends entirely on the boy’s family and when they’re ready.

Summary

Hopefully you’ve learned something new about coming of age traditions around the world and in different cultures. What’s your coming of age tradition?

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