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.
United States babies
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
Some Native American tribes commemorated the first haircut with a ritualistic dance. The Apache tribe had a springtime ritual.
African American boys
There is an African American tradition of performing the first haircut on or around the child's first birthday. Hair trimming usually occurs in a barbershop, which has been a core social institution in African American culture.
African Caribbean boys
Within the African Caribbean community there is the tradition of a child's first haircut. This is performed once the child begins to speak clearly. This is usually done in a barbershop or carried out by the parent.
Mongolian babies, depending on their gender, get their first haircut in early ages between 2-4. Boys in their even year depending on the lunar calendar and girls in odd year.
Many Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish boys get their first haircut when they turn three. 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 haircutting ceremony is held on the holiday of Lag Ba'omer at the tomb of Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai in the Galilean town of Meron.
Though not necessarily a first hair cut, in some Haredi and Hasidic sects, married women will shave all their hair, often the day after their wedding. This is done, traditionally, by the bride's mother. This custom has its basis in the writings of Rabbi Moses Sofer .
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.
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, even as a woman; however, some Hindus practice a tonsure ceremony for girls as well. The details vary by sect, locality, and family also by country.
Kashmiri Muslim babies
Kashmiri babies often get their first haircut at Makhdoon Sahib shrine, because tradition holds that toddlers whose bangs are trimmed here can expect a blessing from the 16th century Muslim Sufi saint Makhdoon Sahi.
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.
A Chinese baby often receives its first haircut at the end of its first month. Traditionally, 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.
The ritual of first haircut (Polish: postrzyżyny) is an old pre-Christian tradition that ceased to be practised in Poland in the 18th century. The traditional first haircut by the boy's father did not take place until the age of between 7 and 10 years old. Before that age the boy's life was connected to his mother and he was treated as a child. The rite of haircut, coupled with granting the boy an additional given name (usually third), marked the coming of age and a transition to the world of men, where he was to be directed by his father. The ritual was also the formal act of recognition of the boy as a son.
Ukrainian babies often have their hair cut on their first birthday as part of the ancient Postryzhennya custom.
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.
- ↑ 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
- ↑ source
- ↑ Family Celebrations at Heart of Many Chinese Traditions
- ↑ Postryzhennya - The Haircutting
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