18 Memorable Coming of Age Rituals from History
18 Memorable Coming of Age Rituals from History

18 Memorable Coming of Age Rituals from History

D.G. Hewitt - May 3, 2019

18 Memorable Coming of Age Rituals from History
The age at which Samurai boys became men varied considerably over the centuries. Pinterest.

1. A young Samurai would be required to undertake a series of tests to prove he had grown into a man and a warrior

The Age of the Samurai started at the end of the 12th century and continued up until the mid-1800s. Over this time, the way in which a boy became a man evolved. While some parts of the initiation ceremony remained constant over the centuries, others – above all, the age at which a boy made the transition to adulthood – varied significantly. Since adult men were expected to fight in open battle, parents understandably tried to delay the day when their sons were no longer regarded as boys. As such, at times of war, the rites-of-passage might not happen until the age of 20.

In times of peace, however, it sometimes dropped as young as 12 or 13 – especially if a family wanted more children since only adult Samurai were permitted to marry. The coming-of-age ritual was known as Genpuku. Unlike many other warrior cultures, the Samurai never required young boys to undertake feats of strength, bravery or endurance in order to be seen as grown males. Rather, Genpuku was all about the symbols. Youth would be given a Samurai helmet, to be worn in place of the cloth cap of boyhood. He would also be presented with his own body armor and, most importantly of all, his Samurai sword.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“The Spartan Way: Manhood Is a Journey”. Art of Manliness. Brett and Kate McKay. August 26, 2018.

“Kenya’s Maasai break with coming-of-age tradition to save the lion.” Reuters, December 2016.

“Australian Aboriginal – Initiation and Mourning Rites of Passage.” The University of Idaho.

“Coming of Age in Ancient Greece.” Yale University Press.

“From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe.” Philadelphia University Press, 2003.

“The 6 Types of Togas Worn in Ancient Rome”. N.S. Gill. ThoughtCo. June 26, 2019

“History of Ancient Sparta.” Live Science.

“Bred for Battle: Understanding Ancient Sparta’s Military Machine.” National Geographic.

“Childhood and Samurai Training.” University of Tampere.

“Ancient warriors killed and ate their dogs as rite of passage.” New Scientist, August 2017.

“Coming of Age in Ancient Greece.” The Onassis Foundation.

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