Rites of Passage

Amelie Salum Rapetti, Reporter

Each culture has its own version of a “coming of age” celebration. From big parties to religious ceremonies, there are many ways to honor a teenager’s transition into adulthood.

Quinceañera – Latin America

When a teenager turns fifteen, they have a big party to indicate their transition into adulthood. There is usually a mass to celebrate the religious aspect of becoming an adult. Then, there is a big party with music, food, dancing, and a nostalgic video of the birthday girl/boy’s childhood. A huge tradition is the vals, where the birthday girl/boy dances with every man (starting with her father)/ every woman (staring with his mother) and the guests dance as well.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah – Judaism

Bar Mitzvah occurs at 13 years old for boys, and a Bat Mitzvah at 12 years old for girls. It requires months of preparation and Torah studies to receive aliyah in a ceremony. This tradition marks emotional and mental maturity as well as knowledge and understanding of their religious responsibilities.

Sweet 16  – USA

Sweet 16 in America usually consists of big parties. This specific age is special because some teenagers will receive cars as birthday gifts considering the fact that they can have their license at that age. As a result, this celebration is associated with freedom because teens have the ability to go wherever they want whenever they want by themselves.

Rumspringa – Amish

In this celebration, 16 year olds are allowed to enjoy the modern world (alcohol, clothes, parties, tech, no prayer) over the weekends with no supervision. When Rumspringa ends it is the teenager’s choice to return to their church to be baptized into Amish society.

Seijin-no-Hi – Japan

This celebration honors 20-year olds, and it takes place on the second Monday of every year.  It marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood. First teenagers listen to a lecture about the importance of maturity and responsibility, then they recieve gifts, and go to celebrate this transition into adulthood with family.

Khatam Al Quran – Malaysia

Biology class at MAN Yogyakarta II I School. (Ariel Javellana/DER/ADB)

The coming of age ceremony is unusually early in this country. 11 year old girls celebrate Khatam Al Quran where they recite the last chapter of the Quran by heart in the celebration. This meaningful coming-of-age moment represents maturity because girls prepare for a significant amount of time before they participate in the ceremony.

Ritu Kala Samskara – Southern India

Ritu Kala Samskara – celebrates the transition from girl to woman and it occurs when a girl has her first menstrual cycle. In a sense, this celebration helps girls by putting them in contact with many people who can help her understand what it means to be a “woman”.  Girls receive gold jewelry, their first vadanam (a gold chain that is worn over their half saree), and silk half sarees. Modern society has somewhat tainted the original meaning of the tradition by also using it as a means to show off familial wealth.