Period Parties! How the World Celebrates Menstruation
Across the world, there are many examples of cultures celebrating a girl’s first period. Despite these rituals and traditions and the fact that menstruation is a natural bodily function, this has become a taboo topic of discussion. Our mission at Papaya is to uplift and empower women about their menstrual cycles. Looking into how different cultures/traditions around the world honour and celebrate menstruation, especially the first period, would be an excellent way to get this blog started.
The word menarche derives from Ancient Greek and it means “beginning.” It is a word used to describe the first menstrual cycle. Around the world, a girl’s first period is recognized as her entry into adulthood and this is a thing to be celebrated. There are many different ways that cultures celebrate or honour the arrival of the first period. In South India for example, the “half sari” party (or Ritu Kala Samskara) is thrown for the girl by her female relatives and friends. As the name suggests, the girl wears a half sari to indicate that she’s now beginning her rite of passage into womanhood. Other places in Latin America, East Asia, Africa…etc also have ways of recognizing this time in a girl’s life. Many of these rituals involve spiritually significant bathing and isolation, praying, gift-giving, and even preparation of special dishes. In Japan, for example, a dish called Sekihan (red rice) is often cooked for the whole family when a girl first menstruates. The Hupa tribe in California have coming of age rituals for girls when they get their first period, which lasts a few days. They include a Flower dance, running, and being taught prayers and songs by older women. Many other native tribes all around the world have similar rituals.
Aside from older cultural traditions that often carry deep spiritual/religious meanings, there are a lot of families that try to celebrate their daughter’s periods to make them feel excited and comforted by this new chapter in their lives rather than afraid or ashamed. People are baking cakes, throwing parties…etc to congratulate their daughters on their period. The company HelloFlo had an ad campaign go viral on YouTube back in 2014 called “First Moon Party”. It followed a young girl who lied about getting her first period and so her mom threw her an over-the-top party with a vagina-shaped cake and other bodily-related paraphernalia to get her daughter to admit that she lied about getting her first period. In addition to being funny, it was heartwarming to see periods talked about in such a light-hearted way.
Far from being a short-term fun trend, a lot of people worldwide are trying to combat the taboo of discussing periods by throwing parties or doing small honorary activities to celebrate the menarche. This is extremely powerful because the first period can set the tone for how a person views their periods for the rest of their teenage or even adult lives. If the period is received warmly and honoured in any special way, it can help girls to shift their perception of periods.