“At the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century, Lithuanians marked the first menstrual period within the family. In most cases only mother and daughter participated in the rite. As in some other European countries, the mother having learned about her daughter’s first menstruation would slap the girl’s face and utter a ritual formula: “bloom like a rose, be beautiful” or similar words. The ritual practice was intended to predestine the girl’s physiological development. It was believed that even the manner in which the act of slapping was performed could determine the duration of menstruation. The mystery of birth was intimated to the girl. It was believed that after this evidence of maturity the girl was fit for marriage. […] The exceptional time of flax breaking, possibly related to the relics of archaic holidays, determined the erotic character of work and leisure activities. Like on Shrove Tuesday, bergždininkės would be bought, only the boys would behave more erotically. Such “theatrical acting” on the part of boys could be even treated as a kind of sexual violence. The theatrical ceremony of killing of a bergždininkė (that is of a she-goat) included her embracing, health checking, pinching, putting across the so-called ožys (he-goat) (a device to fix a flax-breaker), her symbolic killing by “bloodletting”, taking off her apron, public caresses performed by a “žydas” (a Jew), obscene comments about her body parts. The so-called wedding of Joskė and Sorė, and other theatrical performances with the regular costumed characters of winter holidays created a chance of teasing girls in a rather rude way. Such practices as binkiavimas, birokavimas (when several boys seized the girl firmly and ran her seat against a flax-breaker’s fixing device), or šaudymas (shooting) (when boys gave a smart kick in the back part of the girls’ sabots to knock them down into a heap of boon ), or covering her face with soot had similar character. […] Youth ended with marriage. At the beginning of this [?] century people viewed the end of youth in this way”[1].




n      CRLP (2000) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: East Central Europe, p78-99

n      Chrisler, J. C. & Zittel, C. B.   (1998)Menarche stories: reminiscences of college students from Lithuania, Malaysia, Sudan, and the United States, Health Care Women Int 19,4:303-12







Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Jan 2005


[1]Žilvytis Šaknys, Translated by FRAZĖ (nd) Lithuanian Customs and Traditions [ as accessed 15-01-2005]