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Folk Speech/Rite of Passage – Jewish

Period

“If a girl got her first period, we would pinch her cheeks and say Mazel Tov.”

“If a girl got her first period, we would pinch her cheeks and say Congratulations.”

Mazel Tov is a Hebrew congratulatory word. It is often said during times of rites of passage, such as at Bar/Bat Mitzvahs or weddings. It is said with intentions of wishing the participant luck and prosperity as well.

A first period is a time of celebration for fertility as well as a rite of passage, marking a significant time in a young girls’ life. The pinching of the cheeks causes redness to form at the area being irritated, perhaps signifying the blood from the menstruation. I have also heard similar stories of mothers slapping their children in their face. Although traditionally not intended to be threatening or to hurt too much, perhaps this is a customary ritual which warns the young girl that she better be careful not to get pregnant (for the time has come where it may be possible).

Annotation:

*Rites of Passage was first suggested by Arnold Van Gennep in 1909

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