The Catholic Church's Coming of Age Ceremony: Confirmation
Confirmation is one of the Sacraments that members of the Catholic Church are expected to go through.
Interview of friend about her own Confirmation:
- Where is your family originally from?
- Ireland, Italy and Germany but mostly Ireland
- Was the coming of age ceremony you participated in religious or cultural?
- What religion?
- Catholic. (Branch of Christianity)
- What generation immigrant are you? (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc)
- I'm way down the line.
- What is the name of the coming of age ceremony you went through?
- How old were you?
- 13 or 14.
- Did you have to prepare anything?
- Yeah, I went to CCD religious class for 3 years, and I attended CCD when I was younger too. Also, I went to "Jesus camp" for 2 weeks over the summer.
- Did you have to Perform or Present something?
- The priest would say something and we would say something back, but I don’t really remember what I had to do.
- Who came to the event? How big was it?
- My aunt, parents and siblings. The church was filled with like the rest of my classes' families. Our "grade" does it all together.
- Did you consider it important?
- Not particularly, I don't necessarily agree with all steps that we are expected to take to become official part of the church.
- Did you have to wear anything special?
- I just had to look nice
- What made it special?
- You have to be confirmed to be married in a catholic church and have a catholic wedding. You also have to go through your first communion and be baptized too.
- Do you know if your confirmation symbolized anything?
- Yes, becoming an official member of the church.
Both young boys and girls are supposed to go through confirmation, even in the most strict/religious version of Catholicism.
Jewish Coming of Age Ceremony: Bat/Bar Mitzvah
I've attended an exceedingly large amount of Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremonies as well as gone through my own, so I feel I can explain how it works using my own personal experiences.
The title of the ceremony for girls is Bat Mitzvah and for boys it is called a Bar Mitzvah
Girls have their Bat Mitzvah typically at 12 years old. They are generally required to read from the Torah during a religious service at their Synagogue. (house of worship) Other traditions include reading a portion of haftarah, which is a selection of stories and readings from the Tanakh and the books of Nevi'im.
This ceremony is supposed to represent the transition from adolescent/child to young adult. There is typically a festive reception or sometimes a party following the completion of the service.
The Judaism branch that is the most strict, the Orthodox, do not allow girls to have a Bat Mitzvah. Only the boys may have their Bar Mitzvah. There are a number of sexist traditions within Orthodox Judaism, but both the Reform and Conservative movements support the right for girls to go through the Bat Mitzvah Process.
Some young boys at a ceremonial party following the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.
Outside of Us: Coming-Of-Age day in Japan
On the 2nd monday of the year, there is an annual holiday in Japan known as Coming-Of-Age Day. On this day, there are "coming of age ceremonies," or celebrations that take place around the country where family and friends are invited. This non-religious event is a celebration of all the young men and women who reach the age of 20 in Japan.
"Turning 20 in Japan means that young people also have the right to smoke, drink alcohol and marry without permission from their parents – all officially, that is."
The young women traditionally wear a firisode kimono and Zori sandals. This photo was taken at Tokyo Disneyland.
According to Interestingly, these Coming of Age ceremonies have been celebrated in Japan since 714 AD. The holiday was officially established in 1948.
Some Final Thoughts...
It was quite interesting to hear about confirmation from a friend, and while I've been surrounded by Christian people my whole life, I have never really learned about these kinds of events. Her answers gave me some perspective to my own heritage, as she simply said that she only cared about being confirmed because you have to do it in order to get married as a Catholic. Meanwhile, I had a Bar Mitzvah mostly because it just was what I was supposed to do as a young Jewish kid, even if it was a lot of work.
What was even more interesting was researching the Japanese tradition. I was very surprised by how old the tradition dates back, as at first it kind of seemed to me to be like a government-artificially created holiday to raise the birth rate. However, the holiday is actually in fact taking a hit due to the declining birth rate of the Japanese population and problems involving drunken teenagers.
Coming of Age traditions are quite prevalent around the world, I would argue that it is not only a piece of one's religious heritage but it also reflects one's culture and values.
Allen, David, and Chiyomi Sumida. "Coming of Age Day, a Big Event for Japanese Youths, Is Steeped in Tradition." Stars and Stripes. Stars and Stripes, 9 Jan. 2004. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.
"Coming-of-Age Day Ceremonies Held across Japan." Japan Today. Japan Today, 11 Jan. 2016. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.
"Coming of Age Day." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.
"Haftarah." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.