From child to t(w)een: a non-religious coming-of-age ceremony

The transition from childhood to adulthood, the ‘coming of age’ of children to become young men and women, is a significant stepping stone in everyone’s life.

Many traditions around the world have rituals and ceremonies to mark and remember this pivotal moment in someone’s life. They are often linked to religion, such as Bar and Bat Mitzwa and Holy Communion.

When my daughter turned twelve earlier this year we thought it would be nice to celebrate with a coming of age game / ceremony: ‘bye bye childhood, hello t(w)een! 

Together, we created something bespoke and unique, inspired by her interests and personality. It was important for her that family (who live abroad) and friends (who would be there on the day) could actively participate.

This is what we did:

1. We started with ‘The Tale of Lena’s Trail’ (inspired by her favourite book series ‘The School for Good and Evil’): we picked twelve photos, one of each year of her life. Each photo had a question about her at that age which her friends had to answer. 

Non-religious coming-of-age ceremony (c) Rosalie Kuyvenhoven, Rituals Today
Non-religious coming-of-age ceremony: the Tale of Lena’s Trail

2. When Lena and her friends arrived at the photo of age 11, her friends shared how they see her now in words and images. They had created cards and gave these to her.

Friends making cards for the coming-of-age ceremony

3. Her friends then helped Lena make the ‘jump’ from 11 to 12. 

Jumping from childhood into adulthood

4. Inspired by an African coming of age ritual, Lena had a special drink which contained salt for wisdom, honey for happy times and vinegar for challenging moments. It also had mango juice as this is her favourite drink! 

A special coming-of-age drink

5. She then explored the ‘Tree of Teens’: a tree with wishes and survival tips for teenagers, written and drawn by family members, who had sent these by email and post. 

Non-religious coming-of-age ceremony (c) Rosalie Kuyvenhoven, Rituals Today
The Tree of Teens: survival tips from family members

It was a very wonderful and special way to celebrate this milestone birthday and I am really proud of my bubbly, wise and beautiful girl!

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