Coming-Of-Age Traditions And Thoughtful Gifts To Give At Them

March 22, 2023

In many cultures, the transition from childhood to adulthood is cause for a grand celebration, and many traditions have sprung up as a result. If you find yourself invited to such an event, you may not appreciate the significance of the celebration. Understanding the background allows you to engage in the young person’s big day fully and appropriately. Here we talk about some of the coming-of-age traditions you may come across and suggest thoughtful gifts that are appropriate to give.


Christianity has several celebrations that mark the transition out of childhood, with most signifying the child has reached the age they can choose to become a committed member of the faith. For Catholics, this is called Confirmation and is one of the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church. While there is no age limit for taking the sacrament, those growing up in the church typically undertake it in early adolescence. A special church service is followed by a celebratory party to honor the newly confirmed young people.

In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit is symbolized as a white dove. If you are stuck for the perfect gift to give someone celebrating their Confirmation, something with the white dove motif is ideal.


Latina populations are typically devoutly Catholic, but due to the history of their populations, they have developed some unique celebrations. The quinceañera is one such celebration, honoring a girl on her fifteenth birthday as she passes from childhood into adulthood. The tradition stems from a blend of traditional Aztec rites of passage and Spanish colonial influences during the second Mexican empire. Celebrations include a big party and a big dress, although other details vary by region.

If you are invited to a young lady’s Quinceañera party, you are in for a treat! A pious girl will appreciate an elegant chapel veil to wear in church on Sundays. Or a cute piece of jewelry never goes amiss with teenage girls.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah

For Jewish youths turning 13 is an important milestone as it is the age at which they Bar/Bat Mitzvah to demonstrate their commitment to their faith. They also publicly recognize they are responsible for keeping Jewish law as a dedicated community member. Traditionally undertaking Bar Mitzvah is no mean feat, requiring many hours of study and overcoming nerves regarding public speaking (previously, girls did not undertake reading of the Torah, though in some communities, this has changed, and Bat Mitzvahs do as well). The achievement is usually celebrated with a party afterward, with family and friends all invited.

If you wish to give a personalized gift to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah, that is perfectly acceptable, especially if you know them well. Otherwise, cash is a standard and much-appreciated gift.

Seijin no Hi

Young people in Japan all celebrate officially passing into adulthood on the second Monday of January (the day of Maturity) after their 18th birthday (it was previously 20yo). Seijin no Hi is an official holiday designed to help young people understand they have become adults able to engage with the freedoms and responsibilities that entails. Ceremonies occur across the country at local city offices and are followed by festivities with friends and family. Many celebrants take the opportunity to dress in traditional kimonos, adding to the specialness of the day.

If you are lucky enough to score an invite to a Seijon no Hi party for a 20-year-old, a bottle of good sake would be nice, as this is the legal drinking age in Japan.

21st Birthday Party

Twenty-one has been a significant milestone for hundreds of years, and in many places (especially ex-British colonies), the 21st birthday is still a special celebration. Until recently, 21 was when young people were considered fully-fledged legal adults with the right to vote. While 18 is now the typical age for many adult pursuits, the 21st birthday persists, with a rowdy party for friends and family the order of the day. From rural rugby clubs in New Zealand to the old man pub down the road in England, newly minted 21-year-olds still celebrate in style.

For those with a rowdier disposition, a yard glass is considered a traditional gift; otherwise, anything goes for a 21st birthday present.

Throughout history, childhood has been fraught with dangers, and many children did not survive into adulthood. And although many of those dangers are significantly reduced in modern times, celebrating a youngster’s arrival into maturity is still cause for celebration. Therefore, it is only natural that every culture developed its own traditions to celebrate the safe arrival of a young person into adulthood. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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