Celebrating Menstruation Around the World
Written by Cinestie Olson
Think back to the first time you got your period… Most of us were probably unprepared for the lifelong stigma and taboos that came along with menstruation. Imagine that - a vital part of living and we’re being shamed for it! Though many cultures have seen menstruation as something to hide, there are several others who celebrate it. Continue reading to learn more about period rituals around the world, in honor of International Womxn’s History Month!
Disclaimer: The phrases “woman,” “women,” and “girl/s” are used to paraphrase these stories of several different cultures. At Sunny, we find it extremely important to note that not every woman or girl menstruates, and not everyone who menstruates is a woman or girl.
Apache Sunrise Ceremony
The Native Apache community (mostly residing in Mexico and Arizona), celebrates the coming-of-age in an intense 4-day ceremony! During the entirety of the ceremony, the young girl has to stay on beat to the music by shifting the weight of their foot to another. Imagine doing this for hundreds of songs in four days!
Near the end of the ceremony, the young girl will be painted with sacred clay by men in the community. When the clay dries, the young girl will look ancient. This symbolizes the “Changing Woman” or Asdzaa Nádleehé, which is a very respected Goddess of the Navajo people!
The Ojibwe Moon-Lodge
In other cultures, isolation during menstruation is usually coming from a place of shame or shunning. In Native Ojibwe tribes, scattered across the US Midwest, isolation is a form of healing! A separate home, called the Moon Lodge (how celestial and beautiful does this sound???) houses people who are menstruating to cleanse their energy as a form of self-care. The Ojibwe women take this time to themselves - no partners, children, or chores allowed! Other women in the community would bring prepared meals and assure that the women were happy and safe!
The Pelazon Ceremony
The Tikuna tribe, located mostly in the Amazon Rainforest, not only celebrates getting your first period as an important physical change, but also a spiritual change. After their first period, young girls in the Tikuna tribe will spend 3-12 months living alone, either in a separate house or a private room in their family home, and no one is allowed to visit (other than their grandmother) - but it’s not done as a punishment! The girl’s grandmother, or other elderly woman in the tribe, are allowed to visit and teach the girl all about the Tikuna tribe. They’ll learn about ancient dances, songs, history, beliefs, legends, and themselves, and they’ll grow out their hair (this doesn’t sound half bad). When isolation ends, the girl will get their hair cut and be accepted as a woman in their community.
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