Most of us don’t think about doing something to mark the transition from child to adult. However, the importance of this time shouldn’t be under estimated as the child takes more responsibilities and gains the respect and recognition they crave.
In tribal cultures the young man’s first hunt or first battle, even if it was only as spear carrier, was the demarcation of manhood, while there was much celebration as the young woman marked her transition from child to woman with her first menstruation.
Although we might not send our young men out to hunt any more, there is still plenty that can be done to recognise that your child is growing up and will soon be making their own way in the world.
Traditionally, celebrating a girl’s first period has been part of women’s mysteries, celebrated with her fellow women. However, it is important that everyone in her life know that she is not a child any more and shouldn’t be treated as one.
If you follow a nature based spirituality, you may like to hold a private celebration for the women of your family, with a more public celebration perhaps at Imbolc (beginning of February). If you don’t have any formal beliefs, you might like to do something at a spring party when the earth is coming back to life.
The transition from boy to man is much more gradual without such an obvious moment that punctuates the difference between the two states. Should it be when his voice starts to break or when he needs to shave for the first time? Should it be at a specific age, such as 13 or 16? It is a very personal choice. It is up to you to decide what time feels most appropriate.
Whenever you decide to recognise that your boy is now a young man, again, you might like to celebrate with the men of the family or group at Imbolc for those with nature based spirituality or have a springtime celebration for others.