No Cooking And No Church: Period Traditions From Around The World

November 5, 2015  |  
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Every culture has its own way of dealing with menstruation and talking about (or not talking about) our monthly visitor. Here are period traditions from around the world.






Stay inside

In South India, after a girl has had her first period, she isn’t allowed to go out as much, and she isn’t supposed to spend time with boys. The culture believes a menstruating girl is at high risk of pregnancy.






Nothing cold

In Taiwan, women are advised to stay away from any cold food or beverages during their periods, and they are not allowed in temples until their period is over.






No gym class

Another Taiwanese menstrual tradition: Young girls do not go to gym class when they’re on their periods.








A final bath

In Orthodox Jewish society, women take a bath called a mikveh at the end of their cycle. The bath is supposed to remove a woman of her “unclean” status.









In Latvia, during the Soviet times, it was very taboo to talk about sex and anything related to it—like periods. Many people there are still shy to discuss that time of the month.








You still won’t see many feminine product commercials on Latvian television—the classic kinds where a strange blue liquid is poured over a white pad.








A family bath

In the Tamil culture of Sri Lanka, when a girl gets her first period, her family throws her a big party. Part of this period party is a bath: The girl’s family and friends will bathe her and give her rich foods.




Period or STI?

In eastern Indonesia, people believe that men contract sexually transmitted diseases by having sex with women on their period.






Period sex off limits

In Orthodox Judaism and Rastafarianism, it is forbidden for men or women to partake in sexual activity when a woman is menstruating.






A period bed

Among the Hindus of South India, some Rastafarian groups and some tribes in Nigeria, women have to sleep away from all friends and family while on their periods.








Out of the kitchen

A break from cooking doesn’t sound so bad when you’re PMSing. In some cultures, like Hindu societies of Nepal, Bali and Bangladesh, a woman isn’t allowed to cook when she is menstruating.





No religion

In the Shinto region of Japan, as well as in Islamic cultures and Hindu cultures, women are not allowed to visit religious places of worship while menstruating.






Defense against evil spirits

In the Indian state of Rajasthan, women are thought to be vulnerable to evil spirits while on their periods. Menstruating women have to take extra precaution, and can’t do things like cross a busy road.







A slaughtered goat

For the Zulus of South Africa, after a girl gets her first period, a goat is slaughtered (in her honor?). After a sleepover with her female friends, she’s smeared with red clay and receives motherly advice from her elders.





Vampire ways

For the Bauls of Bengal, a woman’s menstrual blood is revered. There are even some ceremonies in which the blood from a girl’s first period is mixed with sugar and other substances, and drank for good luck.

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