My wife received an invitation to a birthday party from one of her female Filipino students recently. The student was turning 18. What we didn’t realize, like my wife’s colleagues, is that turning 18 is a big deal for young Filipino women. The party was her ‘debut’ celebrating her becoming a ‘lady’. For the record: a young man celebrates turning 21.
The celebration was at St Josephs and the hall was full and very well decorated. According to a Filipino woman the celebration includes:
- 18 roses which entails 18 dances with 18 different young men,
- 18 wishes and candles from 18 girls, and
- 18 gifts from 18 different special friends.
The debutante’s family hosts the celebration which includes a feast; there was lots of Filipino food served. The evening also included lots of pictures, a blessing, dancing, visiting, and karaoke.
One of the conversation we had at our table was the lack of ‘rites of passage’ celebrations in our culture. We don’t celebrate milestones such as:
- becoming a woman,
- becoming a man, and
- marriage anniversaries.
In recent memory I only recall celebrating one 50th Anniversary celebration. We need, as a community, to celebrate these achievements because all of our marriages go through hard seasons and good seasons. In many cultures there is a defined moment when a boy or girl know they are a man or a woman.
Last month the Chamber of Commerce relaunched their KBEX Awards to celebrate what is good in Kindersley: businesses, employees, and citizens. I’m looking forward to the day when we can celebrate the unsung heroes of our community: the coaches, the team managers, the drivers, the grass cutters, the kind neighbour, and more who form the heart and muscle of Kindersley.
To the young Filipino woman who turned 18 tonight: Congratulations and may you become a woman who loves well, serves with honour, and is richly loved.