Recently, hubby asked me “when are we going to cut Val’s hair? Will we wait untill she speaks”. I shrieked “what do you mean cut her hair?” Then, he referred to when Angelo had his first haircut. I had to chuckle. I told him that practice was only for boys. It’s different for girls. Then he said“… but her hair is so big she’ll be hot in the summer. We could trim just it”. Well, I didn’t’ bother to point out that we were in WINTER. I simply said, we’re not cutting her hair. I have to admit, there were times when I was tempted. Valentina only has to feel my hand on her head and she starts to fuss. Anyway, after that brief talk with hubby, I began to wonder whether it was actually different for girls. Are there hair cutting traditions for girls in other cultures?
Hair Cutting Traditions For Boys
I did a quick Google search and was surprised to find that there were hair cutting traditions for girls! In fact, some hair rituals are not gender specific. It’s not always different for girls, when it comes to hair cutting rituals. From my quick Google search I found that in many cultures there is some sort of hair cutting ritual but not especially for girls and it’s not always for babies.
Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean Tradition
There is an African American tradition of performing the first haircut on or around the child’s first birthday. However, cutting prior to the age of two may result in a more coarse texture and tighter curl.’
‘Within the African Caribbean community this is performed once the child begins to speak clearly or after the child reaches two. This is usually done in a barbershop or carried out by the parent.’ We actually cut Angelo’s hear when he was 1 1/2 years at that point he could day “Dada”, as a compromise. His hair was getting very long and unruly. Hubby didn’t like me curling it and his paternal grandmother wanted to see him with shorter hair.
‘… the baby often receives its first haircut at the start of its first month or the its first ‘full moon’ Traditionally, for the past decades the baby’s head was shaved except at the top of the crown to remove the hair they considered was grown in the womb.
The cut hair was then tied with red string and saved as a keepsake. However, centuries ago they didn’t cut hair, including boys’ hair, up to the age of 10 years old. This ‘full moon’ celebration coincides with the end of the new mum’s confinement period, and both mother and baby are formally introduced to the extended family and friends. For many of them, this will be the first time they are meeting the new baby and the baby’s name is revealed then.’
Angelo dressed for his 1 month celebration
Hair Cutting Traditions For Girls
My MIL (Angelo’s grandmother) hosted the first month celebration for Angelo. At the time, I didn’t understand the significance. It was not fully explained to me. In my PND haze I rocked up with hubby and Angelo for the gathering. We had lots of food and family came to visit but we didn’t cut his then. I followed my West Indian heritage there.
Eileen from the blog ET Speaks From Home and I exchanged a few tweets and she told me that both boys and girls get their first haircut. After the cut, egg white is a applied to the hair. The family also give out cake and cook red eggs.
‘A mundan or tonsuring is an important ceremony for Hindus. It is also known as chaula or choodakarana. Muslims too shave or trim the baby’s hair and some Sikhs perform the kesi dahi ceremony. This is done by putting curd in the hair of the newborn baby boy. Among Hindus, the mundan is performed during the first or third year of a child’s life. In some regions, the mundan is done only for the male child. However, in most families girls have a mundan too. The child is freshly shaven to signify freedom from the past and moving into the future. It is also said that the shaving of the hair stimulates proper growth of the brain and nerves, and that the sikha, a tuft at the crown of the head, protects the memory.’
Maliku (Minicoy Island) – ‘At the twentieth day from birth, Maliku babies’ heads are shaven and the hair is weighed against gold or silver, which is given to the poor. The ceremony is called boabeylun.’
Native American Tradition
‘For many Native Americans having long hair is a symbol of tribal religious traditions which teach that hair is only to be cut when one is in mourning for the death of a close relative. However, it is said that Among the Chiricahua, for example, the family holds a cradleboard ceremony soon after birth of a child. When a child begins to walk, dressed in new moccasins, he or she follows a trail of pollen leading east to symbolize a long and successful life. In the spring, Apaches ceremonially cut the child’s hair to encourage health and vitality. The hair cutting is done by the medicine man’
‘… its known as the hair-changing ritual to announce the sexual maturity of girls. It’s said to be practiced in rural southeast Amdo, Qinghai Provence, China.’
Ritual Hair Cutting
There must be many more hair cutting traditions out there. Do you have this in your culture? Please share your story and the belief behind the tradition. If any of the content from my internet search is not accurate or needs clarification, do set let me know.
I’d love to learn more about these traditions/rituals. Anyone know why we, West Indians wait for our boys to talk before cutting their hair? Any science behind it. Although I followed the practice to be best of my ability, I don’t know all the ‘facts’ behind the custom.
So, at the end of all this, it has to be said that unless a fit of madness comes over me, NO I’m not cutting Valentina’s hair anytime soon.