Girls have their Quinceañeras and other, "coming of age", ceremonies that are well-known around the world. A little less known are the coming of age ceremonies of boys as they march toward manhood.
In the west, we mostly think of 21st birthdays, bucks night pranks and drinking parties - especially when such pranks end up in the news. But, not all boys-to-men celebrations wind up with some guy tied to a lamp post. Different countries and cultures have their own ceremonies to celebrate manhood, and here are a few.
The Amish community celebrates the youths' freedom when they turn 16. At this age, the youths are free to venture out into the society and explore on weekends unsupervised by their parents.
Throughout this duration, they are not tied down by their religious laws. This unique coming of age ceremony is held in hopes that the youths will come to their own realization that they want to commit to their religion.
When these youths decide to get baptized and start committing to the Amish life voluntarily, their rumspringa time ends.
The Bar Mitzvah
Once Jewish boys turn 13, they are considered to be adults and this occasion will be celebrated with a bar mitzvah. Along with their coming of age, they are also required to formally review the Jewish laws and its commandments.
This can be a huge religious responsibility the very day they turn adult! Since the boys will need to prepare for weeks in advance for this ceremony, there will usually be a reception to celebrate the young boy's accomplishments and hard work.
With the ceremony done with, the boys are now officially able to participate in religious ceremonies.
In Japan, the coming of age ceremony is held much later - at the age of 20. This specific age is chosen because the Japanese believe that it is at 20 years old that youths are considered to be mature. 20-year-olds start to contribute to society, and they are now able to vote and drink!
This coming of age festival is held on the second Monday of January annually. On this day, youths dress up in traditional attire and head to the local city offices together. There, they receive presents and party with their friends and family.
This coming of age ceremony in America is not as religious-based as that of some other cultures'. As the ceremony name suggests, sweet sixteen is celebrated when youths turn 16.
To mark their transition from a child to an adult with more freedom and responsibilities, American parents usually gift these youths a car. You can see instances of lavish sweet sixteen parties from reality shows such as 'My Super Sweet Sixteen' if you want to see what it's like!
In some parts of China, the Confucian coming of age ceremonies is carried out. For boys, these ceremonies are referred to as 'Guan Li'. As can be expected from a Confucian ceremony, there are plenty of speeches centred around respect and gratitude for the boys' elders.
Like the Japanese ceremony, Guan Li is also only celebrated when youths turn 20. On this day, the boys will wear a traditional robe. They would bow and show respect and gratitude to their parents.
While they are in a kneeling position, these boys will receive words of advice from their parents before they thank all the attendees for joining their ceremony.
Boys in Vanuatu start participating in a continuous coming of age ceremony from as young as 7 or 8. In this ceremony, boys will have bungee-like vines tied to their ankles, a length just sufficient to refrain them from hitting the ground as they jump off towers as high as 98-feet tall.
In their first few dives, they are allowed to jump off shorter towers, and their mothers will be holding an item representing their childhood as they do so. After the jump, the item will be thrown away, symbolizing their growth from that phase of childhood.
As these boys grow older, they jump from taller towers to symbolize their growth over the years. This ceremony typically draws quite an audience, family members aside - that's not too surprising given how unique this ceremony is!
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