The World’s Coolest Coming Of Age Traditions

Published August 17, 2013
Updated January 11, 2017

An American Coming Of Age Tradition: Sweet Sixteen

A sweet sixteen party is a coming-of-age tradition that occurs primarily in the United States and Canada. As the name suggests, the celebration takes place on both boys’ and girls’ sixteenth birthdays. While some families throw huge, lavish celebrations, others choose to celebrate the birthday as it were a normal occurrence.

Coming Of Age Traditions Sweet Sixteen Party Favors

Source: Ebay

Sweet sixteen parties were recently highlighted on a popular American television show titled “My Super Sweet Sixteen”, where reality television crews profiled some of the country’s most lavish and insane sweet sixteen parties, ostensibly celebrating the triumph of consumerism more so than one’s naturally subtler coming-of-age.

While sweet sixteen celebrations lack the religious influence of other coming-of-age celebrations, some traditions do surface. As seen in the television show, children are often given a car during their sweet sixteen party, marking the child’s increased freedom and responsibility.

Amish Coming Of Age Traditions: Rumspringa

Coming Of Age Traditions Rumspringa

Source: Discovery

For Amish youth, rumspringa, usually translated as “running around,” marks the intermediary time when they finally have unsupervised weekends away from family and are yet to be under the authority of the church. When Amish teenagers turn 16, they are encouraged to explore the world and experience life with the hope that their venturing out will ultimately drive them back to a commitment with the church. An individual’s rumspringa ends when he or she decides to get baptized and commit his or her life to the church and the Amish community.

Coming Of Age Traditions Amish Women

Source: WordPress

While Amish communities adhere to incredibly strict rules, rumspringa is intended to remind the youth that their being in the community and church is voluntary. Though it varies from community to community, rumspringa offers Amish children the chance to experience worldly pleasures, often for the first time. For some this means relatively benign changes such as buying more modern street clothes or purchasing a DVD player, though for others it means little more than performing sexual acts and indulging in drugs or alcohol.


Source: Toledo Blade

Coming Of Age Traditions Drunk Amish

Source: Avidly

Teenagers who are new to rumspringa are often called “simmies,” meaning foolish in the head, young, and new. It’s a term that the 16-year-olds hope to shed as quickly as possible. Still, most Amish people continue to live at home, and there are a number who navigate through rumspringa without a hint of wild or rebellious behavior. The Amish can be baptized anytime between the ages of 16 and 25.

Coming Of Age Traditions Rumspringa Cart

Source: WordPress

Kiri Picone
Kiri Picone holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Pepperdine University and has been writing for various digital publishers for more than 10 years.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.