Welcoming Women: A Menarche Celebration

 

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My daughter holding one of the ribbons on the Maypole. In the background are our goat, Sarah, and a pony named Snowman who we fostered for the US Equine Rescue League.

On Mayday weekend of 2013, I held a Welcoming Women ceremony for my daughter and her friend, both members of our Pink Tent circle. This was a celebration to welcome the girls to womanhood by honoring the arrival of their menses.

In our home, we began the day by taking Martina into our Temple and keeping her isolated, within the bosom of her matriarchal lineage, all morning. My mom, my older daughter and I were all there with Martina for the morning. We hand fed her, treating her like an infant, on her way to being born into womanhood. We coddled and massaged, did fingernails and brushed her hair. Then, when the arrival of guests was imminent, we walked her inside to dress in her red clothes, with a circlet of flowers for her hair.

For the ceremony, the Red Tent mothers gathered around a fire in our back yard. Each woman brought a gift–a basket of red or pink items like fingernail polish and lip gloss, or whatever gift the giver deemed appropriate. Along with the gifts of things, each woman offered a gift of words–welcoming or advice on being a women or a reminder than though they were now officially women, to remember that they were still young and should continue to enjoy the gifts of youth. We sang. I read a poem to each of them. The girls were the stars at the center of a circle of women, all dressed in symbolic red, who focused on just those two for the duration of the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the men and younger siblings were preparing the Maypole and feast! When the women’s circle opened, we all went inside to congratulations and welcomes from the adult men. We feasted.

Our Maypole expert and coordinator, Jenny. We could not have done it without her.

Our Maypole expert and coordinator, Jenny. We could not have done it without her.

Some of the helpers had gotten the Maypole, a large pine tree, rigged with a frame and enough ribbons for all. After the feast, we all went outside to weave the tree.
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We spent the afternoon enjoying the company of friends, chatting and laughing and nibbling on leftovers from the feast. It was a beautiful day and, I hope, a small thing that will help empower girls to love themselves and their bodies.
Thanks, Suzanne, for many of the pictures.
*feel free to use this information, ceremony and wording but please properly credit your source!

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