A ceremony of Menarche – for a girl as she becomes a woman
Also known as a Red Party
You will need – all things red. Set up and altar with: red beads, red ribbon, red candles (have enough to give one to each woman who is attending), tablecloth, have roses in a vase and rose petals scattered on altar.
The young woman can wear red, perhaps a long red dress. Ask her to bring something to the ceremony that represents her childhood. She will be leaving it behind after the ceremony to be put away for her daughter.
Gifts for the young woman – red jewelry and a statue of a woman or goddess. Have a garland of red flowers to crown her with.
Of all of the ceremonies that appear on this website this one can feel the most private. Often a young woman is only 11 when she gets her first period. As a culture there is a great deal of shame overlaid on menarche and menstruation. Great pains are gone to hide the fact that it happens for every woman of child bearing age every single month for forty years.
It will be important for the young woman to be involved in creating the guest list. If possible invite some mothers and daughters. Mother`s will be invited to tell stories about getting their periods. Ask everyone to wear something red.
Stand in a circle and each person say their name and I am daughter of _____. Everyone welcome each other saying welcome daughter of ______.
The word Menarche is from the Greek words for month and beginning. It is the name for the first menstrual cycle or moontime for Women. It is the highlight of puberty as it means the possibility of fertility.
River she is flowing, growing,
River she is flowing to the sea.
Carry me my mother,
Your Child I will always be.
Carry me my mother to the sea.
River she is flowing…
Use some of these examples about sacred gatherings around the world to celebrate Menarche.
Many societies have specific Menstruation rituals associated with it. Most developed world countries do not celebrate the onset of a girl`s moontime. Neglecting to celebrate this important time in a young woman`s life we miss a valuable opportunity to strengthen her ties to her family and community.
In many cultures the first menstruation signifies a change in status.
On the west coast of Canada the Nuu-chah-nulth (also known as the Nootka) believe that physical endurance is the most important quality in young women. At menarche girls are taken out into the Pacific Ocean and left there to swim back.
In Latin America the quinceañera, or the celebration of a girl turning 15 years old, is a party that is similar to a menarche celebration, except that a specific age marks the transition rather than menarche. When girl gets her moontime in Morocco she is thrown a celebration. All of her family members are invited and the girl is given money and gifts.
While a special dish called sekihan is made for Japanese girls when they have their first period. Sekihan is a dish of rice and beans. The celebration is kept a secret from extended family until the rice is served, at which point everyone attending knows the reason for the party.
In some Indian communities, young women are given a special menarche ceremony called Ruthu Sadangu or Pen Vaisu Vanthachu. The Ceremony is usually witnessed by close family members. These coming of age rites must be performed on the very day the girl attained puberty.
The Mescalero Apaches regard the menarche ceremony as the most important ritual. They hold an eight-day annual event celebrating all of the girls who have begun to menstruate during the past year. The days are divided between feasting and private ceremonies celebrating the girls on their new womanly status.
In Australia, the Aborigines treat a girl to “love magic”. She is taught the ways of womanhood by the other women in her tribe.
The Ulithi tribe of Micronesia call a girl’s menarche kufar. When the girls of this tribe first have their moontimes they go to a menstrual house, where the women bathe her and recite spells. Women must live in these menstruation huts every time they menstruate until they are married.
In Sri Lanka an astrologer studies the stars when the girl experiences menarche as it is believed that her future can be predicted at that moment.
The Navajo have a celebration called kinaalda in which girls are expected to demonstrate their strength through footraces. They also make a cornmeal pudding for their tribe to taste. The girls who experience menarche wear special clothes and style their hair like the Navajo goddess “Changing Woman”.
Have a Goddess figurine wrapped in red tissue paper to present to the girl who has become a woman. Then pass the statue around and allow each person to speak. They can share a story about an experience they have had with their moontime. Please also say that you may ask for a minute of quite time instead of speaking. This gives everyone a chance to absorb the stories.
Have a ceremonial walk laid out with red ribbon. (You may need to tape it to the floor to keep it in place). All the women gather at one end and the girl who is being celebrated stands at the other end. As she waits to walk down the aisle to be welcomed into the circle of women speak about the fact that she is no longer a child. She has become a woman. Ask her if she is ready to become a woman. Then ask her to set her token on the altar and walk into the circle of waiting women. Who all say – welcome to the circle of women. Pout a bit of earth on her feet and say – may the earth always support you. Circle her with a feather and say – may you grow wings to help you soar. Pour water on her hands – may this water bring you health and life, light a candle for her – may this light always illuminate the dark for you.
Give a few drops of lemon juice on a spoon, then give her a spoonful of honey or maple syrup – may the bitterness in life never overwhelm the sweetness. Give her a red fruit – raspberry – and say – may you never hunger, and a drink of a pomegranate juice – may you never thirst.
Place the flower garland on her head – today you are crowned as a woman. Now that you have begun your moontime you are welcomed into the circle of women.
Present her with the piece of red jewellery – help her to put it on and say: – may this _____ give you strength and courage as you become a woman. May it remind you of this day as you were held in love by a circle of women.
She stands in the middle of the circle and each woman gifts her with a wish for her future.
On the Road to Womanhood by Colleen Sell
Be free to be you
Be strong, yet gentle,
Be proud, yet loving.
May your body always be
A blessing to you,
A sacred grove of love and pleasure.
So care for your body
As you would for a beautiful garden.
Your womb can now bring forth new life
But remember yours is the power
To open or close the gates of life
In your garden.
Therefore yours is the responsibility
To be a conscious gardener.
Open to the embrace of love
When you find the one
Who is truly deserving.
Your Children by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
To end the ceremony, have the woman who has been celebrated blow out the candles on the altar. After she has blown them out she can walk around the circle and present a candle to each participant thanking them for their wisdom.
Finish with the words: The circle is open but not unbroken
Have a feast: Serve red foods – red cabbage, beets, borscht, tomatoes (Soup or salad), red peppers, salsa, cherry pie, strawberries, raspberries (a summer pudding). Toast the new woman with red wine or red juice.