First haircut

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The first haircut for a human has special significance in certain cultures and religions. It can be considered a rite of passage or a milestone.

Chinese babies[edit]

A Chinese baby often receives its first haircut at the start of its first month. 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.[1] But centuries ago they didn't cut hair, including boys' hair, up to the age of 10 years old.

Indian babies[edit]

Hindu babies[edit]

Main article: Chudakarana

In Hindu tradition, the hair from birth is associated with undesirable traits from past lives. Thus at the time of the mundan, 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.[2]

Hindus practice a variety of rituals from birth to death. Collectively these are known as saṃskāras, meaning rites of purification, and are believed to make the body pure and fit for worship. A boy's first haircut, known as choula, is one such samskara and is considered an event of great auspiciousness. The lawbooks or smritis prescribe that a boy must have his haircut in his first or third year. While complete tonsure is common, some Hindus prefer to leave some hair on the head, distinguishing this rite from the inauspicious tonsure that occurs upon the death of a parent. Those that practice complete tonsure generally ritually offer the hair to their family deity. Many travel to temples such as the famed Tirumala Venkateswara Temple of Lord Vishnu to perform this ceremony.

Traditionally, a Hindu girl never has her hair cut after the first haircut which generally happens at the age of 11 months; So the first haircut for the girl is very important because that is the only time they do. However, some Hindus practice a tonsure ceremony for girls as well. The details vary by sect, locality, family, and country.

Maliku babies[edit]

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.

Mongolian babies[edit]

Mongolian children get their first haircut in early ages between 2-5. Depending on the lunar calendar, boys receive their first hair cut in their even year and girls in odd year. The ritual of cutting the first hair is called Daah' Urgeeh. It is a big occasion for a whole family when guests are invited. Each guest cuts a strand of hair, saying his wishes to the child, and gives a gift.

Muslim babies[edit]

Shaving the child’s head then anointing the child’s head with saffron is done. Then it is prescribed to give in charity gold or silver equal in weight to the hair. This does not have to be done by actually weighing the hair; if it is too difficult to do that, it is sufficient to estimate the weight and give paper currency equivalent to the price of that amount of gold or silver.[3]

Orthodox Jews[edit]

Orthodox boys[edit]

Main article: Upsherin

Many Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish boys get their first haircut when they are three years old. The hair-cutting ceremony is known in Yiddish as the upsherenish or upsherin (shear off), and in Hebrew "halaqah" (smoothing).

In Israel, there are also non-religious families who adhere to this custom and do not cut their sons' hair until the age of three. A mass hair cutting ceremony is held on the holiday of Lag Ba'omer at the tomb of Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai in the Galilean town of Meron.

Slavic culture[edit]

Polish[edit]

The ritual first haircut (Polish: postrzyżyny) was a pre-Christian, all-Slavic tradition, though it survived in Poland well into the 18th century. This first haircut traditionally took place between the ages of 7 and 10, and was conducted by either the boy's father or a stranger, who would thus enter into the boy's family.[4] Before that age the boy's life was connected to his mother and he was treated as a child. The ritual haircut, coupled with the granting of an additional given name (usually the third), marked the boy's coming of age and a transition to the world of men, in which he was to be looked after by his father.[5] The ritual also constituted the father's formal act of recognition of the boy as a son.[5]

Ukrainian[edit]

Ukrainian babies often have their hair cut on their first birthday as part of the ancient Postryzhennya custom.[6]

Polynesian boys[edit]

In Cook Islands tradition, the haircutting ceremony is a rite of passage for young boys. At these large gatherings the boy sits on a chair draped with tīvaevae (quilts). As his hair is cut, members of the community plaster the boy with money or other gifts. The custom serves to maintain reciprocal ties within the extended family and community.[7]

Traditionally, Niuean boys do not cut their hair, which is lovingly cared for by sisters, mothers and fathers . When the boys become teenagers, a ceremony is held where women tend the hair for the last time before it is cut. Members of the extended family plaster the youth with banknotes – all part of a large informal Niuean economy that links families and ensures the community looks after its own.[8]

United States babies[edit]

In the United States, the first haircut is considered a milestone for a baby which is often marked by saving a lock of the cut hair. The age at which the first haircut occurs varies widely, depending on cultural and religious background, and on the baby's amount of hair.

In the 19th century, the first haircut marked the time when boys would begin to look different from girls.

Native American babies[edit]

Some Native American tribes commemorated the first haircut with a ritualistic dance. The Apache tribe had a springtime ritual.

African American boys[edit]

There is an African American tradition of performing the first haircut anytime after the child's second birthday. This is usually because the texture of the child's hair changes at different stages of growth until age two. Cutting the hair before age two causes the hair to become coarse and less manageable. The 1st haircut is usually done at a barbershop or at home by a parent. Some of the hair is usually kept as a keepsake.

African Caribbean boys[edit]

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.

Yazidi boys[edit]

In the Yazidi tradition (mainly in Iran), the bisk ceremony involves cutting of a baby boy's two or three first locks, according to old traditions by his 40th day after birth to be given to the family's shaikh and pir, but in modern practice at 7 to 11 months, and kept by the family. The bisk ceremony is regarded as the central initiatory ritual by most Yazidis from Turkey, Armenia. and Syria. In the European Diaspora, the term is often translated as baptism. The ceremony is reminiscent of the Muslim 'aqiqa celebrated on the seventh day after birth, but the Yazidi ceremony takes place at a later stage, when the child has already been named.

See also[edit]

  • Tonsure, traditional practice of Christian churches of cutting or shaving the hair from the scalp (while leaving some parts uncut) of clerics, monastics, and, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, all baptized members.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Family Celebrations at Heart of Many Chinese Traditions
  2. ^ It is believed to wash away bad karma and give the recipient good karma and a better life than their previous life, from Hindu Council UK web page on the mundan ceremony
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ (Polish) Zbigniew Bukowski (1988). "Postrzyżyny". In Lech Leciejewicz. Mały słownik kultury dawnych Słowian (2 ed.). Warsaw: Wiedza Powszechna. p. 303. ISBN 8321404995. 
  5. ^ a b (Polish) Józef Kostrzewski (1962). Kultura prapolska [Ancient Polish culture] (3 ed.). Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. p. 303. PB 1008/63. 
  6. ^ Postryzhennya - The Haircutting there are doubts on the reliability of the source
  7. ^ Cook Islanders - Haircutting ceremony, Porirua - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  8. ^ Niueans - A young Niuean at his hair-cutting ceremony - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

External links[edit]