Coming of age or reaching the age of majority is always an exciting experience. In many countries, it signals the start of adulthood, which means people can enlist in the military, vote, and in some places, drink legally. The transition from girlhood or boyhood to adulthood is always a wonderful personal milestone, and it’s understandable why many cultures celebrate it. Loved ones organize and go out of their way to rent birthday equipment and choose elaborate themes for this occasion.
From searching for a special venue to poignant ceremonies, here are some of the most interesting and exciting ways different nations celebrate this incredible rite of passage.
A “quinceañera” is also known as fiesta de quince años, quince años, fiesta de quinceañera, and quinces. It is a celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday. While it is widely celebrated across Latin America, the tradition finds its roots in Mexico.
It is essentially a combination of Spanish-Catholic traditions and indigenous heritages. But they always come with a modern twist so that the celebrator can incorporate her personality and own unique twist to it. The history of this tradition comes from the ancient Aztec practice of presenting a virgin to the community for her family to find probably suitors for her. However, this is no longer the case today.
One of the unforgettable moments of a quinceañera is when young men and women have various roles. A basic reception has six essential parts:
- The grand entrance called La Entrada
- The formal toast called El Brindis
- The first dance, which is usually shared between the celebrator and her dad
- The family dance, which is typically a waltz involving everyone close to the celebrator
- The preferred song, also known as Baile Sorpresa, and it’s usually any contemporary song that the celebrator loves and enjoys
- The general dance, which is usually a waltz that’s more traditional in style
There is also the ceremonial changing of the shoes wherein the celebrator changes from slippers to heels to signal the start of her adulthood. Still, to add a more modern and feminist spin, some celebrators opt to change in shoes that are more her style and personality, like sneakers, boots, and others.
Bar and bat mitzvah
Another well-known coming-of-age ceremony is the bar or bat mitzvah, which finds its roots in Jewish culture. This is when girls and boys celebrate turning thirteen or twelve years old and is like a public declaration of their commitment to the Jewish faith and adherence to Jewish law. Here are some of the most important elements of a bar or bat mitzvah:
- The celebrator is called during the religious service to read from the Torah. They are also expected to have done their studying months before the actual ceremony.
- The father of the celebrator recites a prayer for his child’s coming of age.
- After the religious service, a fun party usually ensues to mark this incredible milestone.
Another ubiquitous coming-of-age celebration is the concept of debuting, which takes many forms across the globe. Here are some examples of debutante balls or celebrations in different cultures or countries:
- In Europe, the concept of a debutante emerged from the upper class and the aristocratic echelon of society. The whole idea is that when a girl reaches a certain level of maturity, they will “come out into society” at a formal celebration called a “debut” or a debutante ball. Like the quinceañera, debutante balls were founded so that young girls who were considered of age at the time could find potential suitors and husbands. Today, these practices are considered archaic, and rightly so, which is why today’s debutante balls are simply parties commemorating the daughters of the members of the upper class. One example is the storied Crillon Ball, also known as Le Bal des Débutantes, which takes place in Paris every year. The organizers invite the daughters of famous parents from well-known families in politics, business, or entertainment. The girls are often aged sixteen to twenty-two.
- In the Philippines, the debut party is celebrated when a girl turns eighteen. A key feature involves the eighteen roses, which is a traditional waltz or cotillion with eighteen young men close to the debutante. It also has the eighteen wishes or gifts, which are usually reserved for the girls closest to the celebrator.
Coming of age is always worth celebrating because it marks the start of adulthood, responsibility, privilege, and a new chapter in life. The different cultural celebrations from all over the world also make it an even more meaningful milestone—and one that celebrators will never forget for a long time.
Meta title: Learning About Coming-of-Age Traditions Across the Globe
meta desc: Every culture celebrates coming of age differently, mixing traditions and modern concepts. Here are some of the most interesting ones around the globe.