For an adolescent girl, getting her first period can be both embarrassing and scary. It can be difficult for the girl to celebrate something this momentous, but the mood can be lightened by celebrating the occasion as she journeys into womanhood.
Throwing a period party can be a great first step towards embracing her transition. Women bleed so that they can give life – to procreate and birth future generations. It’s a cause for celebration – however big or small, logical or bizarre – and these 11 places do just that by embracing their daughters’ first periods.
1. South India
You would be surprised how in a country like India, there are several cultures down south that welcome a girl’s periods as auspicious. A huge celebration is organised when a girl reaches puberty. In the Tamil community, at first the girl is bathed by her close family and fed a nutritious diet but in isolation. After that, she takes another bath, dresses up in the finest garb, and is showered with blessings and gifts. Relatives are invited, priests perform rituals, and delicious meals are prepared to mark the occasion.
2. South Africa
In South Africa, a huge party is thrown in honour of a girl’s first period. The girl is gifted several presents but she must stay inside the house for three days, away from men and children as long as her period lasts.
When a girl reaches puberty, her mother makes a traditional dish called sekihan, which a meal comprising of sticky rice and red beans. It’s mandatory for the entire family to consume the dish and guess that the girl has finally got her first period. It sure is an interesting way of announcing the news!
When a Filipino girl gets her first period, her mother washes her bloodied panties with plain water. Then she would smear it on her daughter’s face in an age-long belief that doing so would prevent the latter from getting pimples. The daughter is also supposed to jump three steps from the stairs as it signifies the number of days she will be on her period.
In Brazil, a girl bleeding for the first time becomes a matter of breaking news. Every family member and friend must be told about the occasion – which is seen more as a ritualistic celebration than anything else. It’s wonderful how not just the women but men are also told of the happy news.
When an Italian girl gets her first period, she must be addressed as ‘signorina’ which means ‘miss’ or ‘young lady’. Family and relatives make sure that everyone who knows the girl is given the good news of her first period. So, it’s normal for the girls to feel flushed when people congratulate them in quick succession.
Iceland does it right by baking cakes! When a girl gets her first period, she is treated to a cake baked by her mother. And it’s no ordinary cake either. It’s all red and white symbolising her daughter’s new milestone. We should totally get behind this custom here in India.
First periods don’t necessarily have to be difficult. By difficult, we mean both in pain and in customs. In Israel, the ritual dictates the girl to lick a spoon of honey. The belief is that by doing so, all her future periods will become ‘easier’ to deal with. No girl would ever say no to that!
The Croatian custom is one step ahead. Forget cakes and honey, here, the girl celebrates her first bleed by drinking a glass of red wine. It’s a custom followed by the older members of the family. Well, the Croatians know exactly how to celebrate life!
Food can make everything better and in Canada, the custom – even though it’s a little stretched over time – says that the girl must go on a berry cleanse when she gets her first period. She can’t eat berries for a year but she can collect and preserve them, and once the year passes, she can eat to her heart’s content – a gesture that celebrates her womanhood!
Periods are not seen as a taboo in Macedonia. When a girl reaches puberty, she is asked to wash her own stained underwear. This simple ritual is practiced widely as it is believed that the girl will get good luck if she washes her own blood.