Adolescence: First Menstruation for Girls

I was contacted by someone who asked “why does a mother slap her daughter when she first starts menstruation?”. And it started research on this custom as a tradition.

I found a wonderful site with many different rituals and customs for this life cycle event. And yes, I did find that it was an Askenazi custom (minhag) for mothers to slap their daughters in the face on this occasion. The reasons varied from ‘slapping sense’ into a newly fertile girl so she would know not to disgrace the family to helping to bring a healthy flush to her face because of the bleeding. This is more of a superstition than a tradition and is also said to keep the evil spirits away.

Of all the alternative customs I read about the one I like best is to take that time to plant a new fruit tree in the honor of the young woman. But I also learned it is a good idea to have a feast including fruits like pomegranates to celebrate and wish good blessings along with the responsibility of becoming a woman.

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