When do you give your child their first hair cut?

Blogger Maria Tumolo of The Tiger Tales blog takes a brief look at the hair-cutting rituals of different cultures

Maria Tumolo
Maria Tumolo

  I tried various techniques to make my daughter’s hair regime has stress-free as possible. At one point my husband and I discussed cutting her hair. I explained it’s different for girls, when it came to hair cutting. Then I began to wonder, was actually different for girls? Were there cultural hair cutting rituals for girls in other countries?  I did a quick online search and was surprised to find that there were hair cutting rituals for girls.  However, some hair cutting rituals were not gender specific.  It’s not always different for girls when it comes to hair cutting.

Here’s what I’ve found on the subject of hair cutting rituals in different cultures:

African American Boys – 1 ‘There is an African American tradition of performing the first haircut on or around the child’s first birthday. However, cutting prior to the age of two may result in a more coarse texture and tighter curl.’

African Caribbean Boys- ‘Within the African Caribbean community this is performed once the child begins to speak clearly or after the child reaches two. This is usually done in a barbershop or carried out by the parent.’ We actually cut our son’s hair when he was 1 1/2 years, when he began to say “Dada.”

Chinese- 2 ‘the baby often receives its first haircut at the start of its first month or the its first ‘full moon’  Traditionally, for the past decades, 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.  However, centuries ago they didn’t cut hair, including boys’ hair, up to the age of 10 years old.  This ‘full moon’ celebration coincides with the end of the new mum’s confinement period, and both mother and baby are formally introduced to the extended family and friends. For many of them, this will be the first time they are meeting the new baby and the baby’s name is revealed then.’ 

Eileen from the blog ET Speaks From Home and I exchanged a few tweets and she told me that Chinese boys and girls get their first haircut, then and egg white is applied to the hair. The family also give out cake and cook red eggs.

Hindu –  3A mundan or tonsuring is an important ceremony for Hindus. It is also known as chaula or choodakarana. Muslims too shave or trim the baby’s hair and some Sikhs perform the kesi dahi ceremony. This is done by putting curd in the hair of the newborn baby boy.  Among Hindus, the mundan is performed during the first or third year of a child’s life. In some regions, the mundan is done only for the male child. However, in most families girls have a mundan too.  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.’

Maliku (Minicoy Island) – 4At 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.’

Native American- 5 ‘For many Native Americans having long hair is a symbol of tribal religious traditions which teach that hair is only to be cut when one is in mourning for the death of a close relative. However, it is said that among the Chiricahua, for example, the family holds a cradleboard ceremony soon after birth of a child. 6. When a child begins to walk, dressed in new moccasins, he or she follows a trail of pollen leading east to symbolize a long and successful life. In the spring, Apaches ceremonially cut the child’s hair to encourage health and vitality. The hair cutting is done by the medicine man’

Tibet- 7 ‘it’s known as the hair-changing ritual to announce the sexual maturity of girls. It’s said to be practiced in rural southeast Amdo, Qinghai Provence, China.’

There must be many more hair-cutting traditions out there.  Do you have this in your culture? Please share your story and the belief behind the tradition.

As for my daughter, in the end I only trimmed her ends.

Maria Tumolo is the founder of The Tiger Tales, a Trini-British parenting lifestyle blog.
Follow Maria on Twitter

Further reading

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_haircut
  2. http://www.babycenter.com.my/a1026578/baby-traditions-chinese-full-moon-celebration#ixzz2hbcCsGkz
  3. http://www.babycenter.in/a1015415/mundan-ceremony
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_haircut
  5. http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/601
  6. http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/601
  7. Asian Highlands Perspectives Volume 5: Tibetan Girl’s HairChanging Ritual/ By Tshedpal rdo rje, Rin chen rdo rje, Gerald Roche, and CK Stuart

5 Comments

  1. by Cortney P. on 26/07/2020  12:53 PM Reply

    I am the mother of a gorgeous mixed baby boy. He is 2, and he is getting his first hair cut tomorrow. I have resisted cutting his beautiful curly locks, because they are just so amazing! But when Thomas the train got stuck in his curls and caused some pain to my rambunctious toddler, dad convinced me it just may be time. Thank you for this post and for helping me understand some areas of tradition for my son's mixed culture that I am unaware of! Blessings!

  2. by Dana on 20/12/2019  10:05 PM Reply

    Really sucks to be black

    • by BBH Team on 14/01/2020  2:54 PM Reply

      We're sorry to hear that you feel that way. We'd be interested to know the reasoning behind your statement.

      Kind regards,
      The BBH Team

    • by August on 21/08/2020  7:06 PM Reply

      My son is black and white and turning two next week I know for sure we do not want to cut it until he can tell us otherwise but I am trying to decide if we should get him a lining. This article does help my decision a little bit thank you :)

  3. by Mihika Sharma on 04/11/2017  10:22 AM Reply

    I am a Hindu girl, and in our culture, the baby gets its first hair cut in Mundan Ceremony. This is a beautiful ceremony in which family members come together to held a pooja and give their blessings to the baby.
    Mihika

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