Gloves made of bullet ants, anyone?
Rites of passage are ritual events marking a person’s transition from one chapter of life to another. Transitions can be such things as puberty, coming of age, marriage, and death. Different societies and cultures have different traditional rite of passage ceremonies.
During some research, I found an interesting article, “Ten Bizarre Rites of Passage.” (Not reading for the faint of heart.)
There, Jamie Frater shares one rite of passage from the Satere-Mawe Tribe in the Amazon.
This Amazon tribe performs an initiation ritual where young men place their hands into mittens filled with hundreds of bullet ants. The bite is approximately 20 times more painful than being stung by a wasp. The tribal men will gather the ants and submerge them into a solution that temporarily knocks them out. The ants are then woven into the mittens. Upon waking up, the men will place their hands into the mittens and dance for 10 minutes. The ant’s sting prevents the body from protecting itself from pain. The body begins to convulse, and the pain can last up to 24 hours. The crazy thing is, many men will repeat this ritual many times to prove their manhood.
I share this because high school proms are now being touted as rites of passage. No, we don’t ask our teens to subject themselves to bullet ants. (A huge relief to them, I’m sure.)
With traditions like debutante balls falling out of fashion and young people getting married later in life, prom has grown in importance and people are willing to spend more on the big night, said Kit Yarrow, a consumer research psychologist.
“Prom is the new wedding,” Yarrow said. “I think that every society has to have a rite of passage into adulthood for young people, and prom has become that.”
The article highlights the money parents and teens are willing to put out for prom. The national average is now $1,139. (Up from $807 in 2011) I live in the Midwest, where evidently we are cheapies, spending only an average of $722 for prom.
The biggest part of the expense is the dress. Including shoes, alterations, and the original purchase, teens can easily spend over $600 for their outfits. Guys get off easier, but they spend $100 to $200 on tux rental.
How expensive should rites of passage be?
To say things have changed since I attended prom is putting it mildly. I’d love to hear your thoughts: Do you consider prom a rite of passage? What is your opinion about the average reported cost of prom?
And as always, thanks for stopping by.
P.S. If you’re looking for a clean, contemporary teen read, you might want to check out Along Came Jordan–just released last week!