Coming of age
Coming of age is a young person's transition from childhood
Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to adolescence. In developmental psychology, childhood is divided up into the developmental stages of toddlerhood , early childhood , middle childhood , and adolescence .- Age ranges of childhood :The term childhood is non-specific and can imply a...

 to adult
An adult is a human being or living organism that is of relatively mature age, typically associated with sexual maturity and the attainment of reproductive age....

hood. The age at which this transition takes place varies in society, as does the nature of the transition. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

, as practiced by many societies. In the past, and in some societies today, such a change are associated with the age of sexual maturity
Sexual maturity
Sexual maturity is the age or stage when an organism can reproduce. It is sometimes considered synonymous with adulthood, though the two are distinct...

 (Early-Adolescence); in others, it is associated with an age of religious responsibility. Particularly in western societies, modern legal conventions which stipulate points in late adolescence or early adulthood (most commonly 16-21 when adolescents are generally no longer considered minor
Minor (law)
In law, a minor is a person under a certain age — the age of majority — which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood; the age depends upon jurisdiction and application, but is typically 18...

s and are granted the full rights of an adult) are the focus of the transition. In either case, many cultures retain ceremonies
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

 to confirm the coming of age, and significant benefits come with the change. (See also rite of passage
Rite of passage
A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one status to another. It is a universal phenomenon which can show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures....



Turning 15, the "age of maturity," as the Baha'i faith terms it, it is a time when a child is considered spiritually mature and is responsible stating, on his/her own behalf whether or not he/she wishes to remain a member of the Baha'i community. Declared Baha'is are expected to begin observing certain Baha'i laws
Bahá'í laws
Bahá'í laws are laws and ordinances used in the Bahá'í Faith and are a fundamental part of Bahá'í practice. The laws are based are authenticated texts from Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, and also includes subsequent interpretations from `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, and...

, such as obligatory prayer and fasting.


Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 boys who are just under the age of 20 years old undergo a Shinbyu
Shinbyu is the Burmese term for a novitiation ceremony in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, referring to the celebrations marking the samanera ordination of a boy under the age of 20....

 ceremony, where they are initiated into the Temple.


In many Christian denominations, a young person celebrates his/her Coming of Age with the Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 of Confirmation. Eastern Orthodoxy, which gives Confirmation to infants, directly after baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, is an important exception. This is usually done by the Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 laying his hands upon the foreheads of the young person (usually between the ages of 12 to 15 years), and marking them with the seal of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...


In Christian traditions that practice Believer's Baptism
Believer's baptism
Believer's baptism is the Christian practice of baptism as this is understood by many Protestant churches, particularly those that descend from the Anabaptist tradition...

 (baptism by voluntary decision, as opposed to baptism in early infancy), the ritual can be carried out after the age of accountability has arrived. Some traditions withhold the rite of Holy Communion from those not yet at the age of accountability, on the grounds that children do not understand what the sacrament means. Full membership in the Church, if not bestowed at birth, often must wait until the age of accountability and frequently is granted only after a period of preparation known as catechesis
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

. The time of innocence before one has the ability to understand truly the laws of God and that God sees one as innocent is also seen as applying to individuals who suffer from a mental disability which prevents them from ever reaching a time when they are capable of understanding the laws of God. These individuals are thus seen as existing in a perpetual state of innocence by the grace of God.


Historically, the Confucian coming of age ceremony has been the "Guan Li
Guan Li
The Guan Li is the Confucian coming of age ceremony. The name Guan Li refers to the ceremony for men, while the Ji Li refers to the one for women.The age of the person is usually 20 and during the ceremony, the person obtains a style name...

" for men and the "Ji Li" for women. The age are usually around 20 and during the ceremony, the person obtains a style name. These ceremonies are now rarely practiced in China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, but there has been a resurgence, especially from those who are sympathetic to the Hanfu Movement
Hanfu movement
Hanfu movement , or the Hanfu subculture, is a movement created in China to reintroduce into modern life the traditional Han Chinese clothing styles that were banned by the Manchu Qing Dynasty .-History:...


Hermeticism (Greek Paganism)

In certain states in Ancient Greece, such as Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 and Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, adolescent boys were expected to enter into a mentoring
Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person....

 relationship with an adult man, in which they would be taught skills pertaining to adult life, such as hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

, martial arts
Martial arts
Martial arts are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat, practiced for a variety of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as mental and spiritual development....

, and fine arts.


In Hinduism coming of age generally signifies that a boy or girl are mature enough to understand his responsibility towards family and society. Hinduism also has the sacred thread ceremony for Dvija
Dvija is one of the members of the first three varnas in Hindu Dharma. Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are included in Dvija.The first birth is physical. The second occurs when one uptakes fulfilling a role in society...

(twice-born) boys that marks their coming of age to do religious ceremonies. Women often celebrate their coming to age by having a ceremony. This ceremony includes dressing them with sari, and announcing their maturity to the community.


In the Jewish faith, boys reach religious maturity at age thirteen and become bar mitzvah, "Son of the Commandments". Girls mature earlier at age twelve and become bat mitzvah, "Daughter of the Commandments".


Children are not required to perform any obligatory acts of Islamic Teachings prior to reaching the age of puberty, although they should be encouraged to begin praying at the age of seven. Before reaching puberty it is recommended to pray in obeisance to God and to exemplify Islamic customs, but as soon as one exhibits any characteristic of puberty, that person is required to perform the prayers and other obligations of Islam.


In the Shinto faith, boys reach religious maturity between the ages of 11 to 17, with a Genpuku
or genbuku was an historical Japanese coming-of-age ceremony. The etymology is atypical; in this case means "head" and means "wearing". The ceremony is also known as , , , , and ....

 ceremony. Girls receive a ceremony called mogi, between the ages of 12 – 14 years of age.


In Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

, when one reaches the appropriate age of maturity, Amrit is consumed in a ceremony called Amrit Sanchar or Khanda-ki-Pahul

Non-religious traditions

In some countries Humanist
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 or freethinker
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas...

 organisations have arranged courses or camps for non-religious adolescents, in which they can study or work on ethical, social and personal topics important for adult life, followed by a formal rite of passage comparable to the Christian Confirmation. Some of these ceremonies are even called "civil confirmations". The purpose of these ceremonies is to offer a festive ritual for those youngsters, who do not believe in any religion, but nevertheless want to mark their transition from childhood to adulthood.

Australia, NZ, UK, Ireland, Poland, Ukraine and Scandinavia

The coming of age in Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, the Republic of Poland and the Scandinavian Countries are celebrated at either 18 or 21. As the age of legal majority, being 18 legally enables one to vote, purchase tobacco and alcohol (wine in Norway), get married without parental consent (16 in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, England & Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and as civil marriage
Civil marriage
Civil marriage is marriage performed by a government official and not a religious organization.-History:Every country maintaining a population registry of its residents keeps track of marital status, and most countries believe that it is their responsibility to register married couples. Most...

 in Ukraine) and sign contracts. In comparison, turning 21 has few legal effects (except Poland & Ukraine, where all the laws are applied after 18). Eighteenth or twenty-first birthday celebrations typically take the form of an extravagant party; presents given are often higher than usual value, and champagne may be served, as at other formal celebrations. There are few set ceremonies or rituals to be observed, although if the celebrant is a male he may be challenged to consume a yard glass
Yard (beer)
A yard of ale or yard glass is a very tall beer glass used for drinking around of beer, depending upon the diameter. The glass is approximately 1 yard long, shaped with a bulb at the bottom, and a widening shaft which constitutes most of the height....

 which is typically full of beer.

Drinking plays a large part in 18th birthdays, as it is the age where one can legally purchase alcohol. As such, many 18th birthdays are celebrated with a large party with friends, with drinking as a central motif. Despite 18 being the legal age of adulthood, most do not immediately take on the roles of adult, such as moving out of home or gaining full-time employment, instead studying or working as an apprentice. At New Zealand and Australian 21st birthdays, it is customary for family members to assemble embarrassing photos, videos or other childhood memorabilia to display at a celebration.

Latin America

In some Latin American countries, when a woman reaches the age of 15, her relatives organize a very expensive celebration. It is usually a large party, called a Quinceañera
Quinceañera , sometimes called "Fiesta de quince años", "Fiesta de Quinceañera", "Quince años" or simply "quince", is the celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America and elsewhere in communities of immigrants from Latin America...

 in Spanish speaking countries and Baile de Debutantes
A débutante is a young lady from an aristocratic or upper class family who has reached the age of maturity, and as a new adult, is introduced to society at a formal "début" presentation. It should not be confused with a Debs...

 in Brazil.

North America

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, when a child reaches the age of 16 he or she is allowed to drive and sometimes receives the responsibility of owning their own car.


In Spain during the 19th century, there was a civilian coming of age bound to the compulsory military service
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. The quintos were the boys of the village that reached the age of eligibility for military service (18 years), thus forming the quinta of a year. In rural Spain, the mili was the first and sometimes the only experience of life away from family. In the days before their departure, the quintos knocked every door to ask for food and drink. They held a common festive meal with what they gathered and sometimes painted some graffiti reading "Vivan los quintos del año" as a memorial of their leaving their youth. Years later, the quintos of the same year could still hold yearly meals to remember times past. By the end of the 20th century, the rural exodus
Rural exodus
Rural flight is a term used to describe the migratory patterns of peoples from rural areas into urban areas.In modern times, it often occurs in a region following the industrialization of agriculture when fewer people are needed to bring the same amount of agricultural output to market and related...

, the diffusion of city customs and the loss of prestige of military service changed the relevance of quintos parties. In some places, the party included the village girls of the same age, thus becoming less directly relevant to military service. In others, the tradition was simply lost.
Bloby's invasion.


Since 1948, the age of majority
Age of majority
The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of...

 in Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 has been 20; persons under 20 are not permitted to smoke, drink, or vote. Coming-of-age ceremonies, known as seijin shiki
Seijin shiki
is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority over the past year, and to help them realize that they have become adults...

, are held on the second Monday of January. At the ceremony, all of the men and women participating are brought to a government building and listen to many speakers, similar to a graduation ceremony. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the government gives the new adults money.

Papua New Guinea

Kovave is a ceremony to initiate Papua New Guinea boys into adult society. It involves dressing up in a conical hat which has long strands of leaves hanging from the edge, down to below the waist. The name Kovave is also used to describe the head-dress.


During the feudal period, the coming of age was celebrated at 15 for noblemen. Nowadays, the age is 18 for girls and 20 for boys.


In Bali, the coming of age ceremony is supposed to take place after a girl's first menstrual period or a boy's voice breaks. However, due to expense, it is often delayed until later. The upper canines are filed down slightly to symbolize the effacing of the individual's "wild" nature.


In the rite of initiation
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

 of Baka
Baka (Cameroon and Gabon)
The Baka, known in the Congo as Bayaka , are an ethnic group inhabiting the southeastern rainforests of Cameroon, northern Republic of Congo, northern Gabon, and southwestern Central African Republic. They are sometimes called a subgroup of the Twa, but the two peoples are not closely related...

 Pygmies, the Spirit of the Forest ritually kills the boys to propitiate their rebirth as men. The Italian anthropologist
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 Mauro Campagnoli took part in this secret rite of men's initiation in order to better understand its meaning. He became a member of a baka patrilinear clan and completed his trans-cultural coming of age.


In Korea, Monday of the third week of May is "coming-of-age day". Also the choice to marry, to drink alcohol, to smoke, to vote, and to drive is when you are 19 (20 at the most).
As a tradition on that day people are usually to receive three gifts. Flowers, perfume and a kiss.

South Africa

In South Africa, traditionally a person's 21st birthday is considered their welcome into adulthood. A large party with family and friends is normally organized. The father of the new adult will usually give a speech to celebrate that person's life so far. Another tradition is to embarrass the young adult through baby photos. This is preformed with face makeup while wearing warm clothing, such as foopklees and pie by Max hayerst .


In the Philippines, a coming of age celebration for 18 year olds (particularly the women) known as a "debut" is popular. It is a formal affair, often a coat and tie occasion for the upper-middle to upper class population. The débutante, by tradition, chooses "18 roses" (18 special men or boys in the girl's life like friends, relatives, and brothers) and "18 candles" (female counterpart). Other variations in less formal setups exist, but the significance of "18" is almost always kept.

Filipino men, on the other hand, celebrate theirs on their 21st birthday. There is no traditionally celebrated program for this, and the celebration differs from family to family.-- (talk) 00:27, 1 December 2011 (UTC)


In many universities of Europe, South America and India, first year students are made to undergo tests or humiliation before being accepted as students. Perhaps the oldest of these is "Raisin Monday" at the University of St Andrews
University of St Andrews
The University of St Andrews, informally referred to as "St Andrews", is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English-speaking world after Oxford and Cambridge. The university is situated in the town of St Andrews, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It was founded between...

 in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. It is still practiced. A senior student would take a new student, a "bejant" or "bejantine" under his wing and show them round the university. In gratitude, the bejant would give the senior student a pound of raisins. In turn this led to bejants being given receipts in Latin. If a bejant failed to produce the receipt, he could be thrown into a fountain. The word bejant derives from "bec jaune" (a yellow beak, or fledgling).

Universities in Chile follow an annual ritual called "Mechoneo" (the act of pulling somebody's hair). First year students are initiated by theatrical "punishment". Freshmen are tied together while upperclassmen throw eggs, flour, water, etc. Some universities have traditional ways of initiating freshmen.

Fraternities and sororities

Fraternities and sororities have different processes for associate members, also known as pledges, to become a member. It usually takes place with one or more ritual that is specific to that organization.

Printing industry

Among apprentices, the step from apprentice to journeyman was often marked by some ceremonial humiliation. Among printers this lasted until the twentieth century. The unfortunate young man would be "banged out" by being covered in offal
Offal , also called, especially in the United States, variety meats or organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, which varies by culture and region, but includes most internal organs other than...


Japanese corporate entrance ceremony

In large Japanese corporations, all employees who enter the company from college or high school in the same year attend an entrance ceremony. Attendees are required to arrive early, sit in assigned seats, and wear company-approved clothing with an approved haircut. A member of the group is chosen to give a speech, and everyone sings the company song.

See also

  • Adolescence
    Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood , but largely characterized as beginning and ending with the teenage stage...

  • Bildungsroman
    In literary criticism, bildungsroman or coming-of-age story is a literary genre which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood , and in which character change is thus extremely important...

  • Coming of Age (Unitarian Universalism)
    Coming of Age (Unitarian Universalism)
    Coming of Age is a Unitarian Universalist program in which a congregation fosters the transition of its children into youth...

  • Coming-of-age film
    Coming-of-age film
    Coming-of-age film is a film genre which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood. Personal growth and change is an important characteristic of this genre, which relies on dialogue and emotional responses, rather than action. The main character is...

  • Journey of self-discovery
    Journey of self-discovery
    The term "journey of self-discovery" refers to a travel, pilgrimage, or series of events whereby a person attempts to determine how they feel, personally, about spiritual issues...

  • Loss of innocence
  • Manhood
  • Quinceañera
    Quinceañera , sometimes called "Fiesta de quince años", "Fiesta de Quinceañera", "Quince años" or simply "quince", is the celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America and elsewhere in communities of immigrants from Latin America...

     (age 15)
  • Rite of passage
    Rite of passage
    A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one status to another. It is a universal phenomenon which can show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures....

  • Sweet sixteen (birthday)
    Sweet sixteen (birthday)
    A sweet sixteen party is a type of birthday party in the United States celebrating a sixteenth birthday, Sweet sixteen parties mark a coming of age.- Types of sweet sixteen party :...

  • External links

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