Feast of First Blood Tradition / Ritual in The River | World Anvil
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Feast of First Blood

The Feast of First Blood is held to welcome a girl into her second growth. It is always celebrated in conjunction with the full moon, which is seen as an ancestor and symbol of fertility.


The women of the river villages believe the moon to be the source of all things in the world; in particular, the ancient trees that became people. This lifegiving aspect of the moon is held in such awe that only those women who have created life from their bodies are acknowledged as adults. The most common and frequently held tradition in lunar worship is a monthly salutation to the rising full moon, during which all members of a village gather to speak their wishes to the moon. Often, girls who have passed menarche form a group and speak a communal wish to become women. The arrival of a new girl to that group is seen as a reason to celebrate, and they meet again later the same night to do so. Initially the feast was secret, but as members left the group it began to be acknowledged and facilitated by the women as well.


During the day of the full moon, the mature girls eat sparingly to maintain their appetites for the feast, often much to the frustration of the girl of honor who does not know what is being planned. After drinking wishes to the moon, the band retires to bed as usual, but just before midnight the youngest adult woman rouses the girl of honor and brings her to the community fire pit in the middle of the village, where the rest of the older girls have gathered.  In turns they recite a part of the creation story that explains why women menstruate.
The woman then welcomes the girl with a ritual speech (the exact wording differs from village to village, but carries the sense of "as the moon brings life from her blood, your blood may become life") and presents the girl with a lump-nut. After the girl eats the nut, the oldest of the gathered girls places a live coal in a pile of sticks. As the fire grows, the celebration begins. The girls bring out the food they have kept hidden all day, and the next few hours are spent eating, singing, dancing, talking, and laughing.

Components and tools

The central object of the ceremony is the lump-nut. The women believe eating it causes pregnancy, which they call full-belly, and it is given to the girl of honor as her first step toward adulthood.


Other than the youngest adult, the women of the band do not participate directly in the feast. However, they still play an important part in supporting it. On the day of the feast, the band's Spirit-talker, responsible for creating the drink used to honor the moon, prepares a second drink to give to the boys and younger girls that makes them sleep deeply through the night, so that they will not wake and interrupt the festivities. The first women to wake up in the morning clear the area of the remains of the feast--and if there are any girls who fell asleep in the open, help them to their homes.


The Feast of First Blood takes place on the night of the first full moon following a girl's first menstrual flow. It is held at midnight regardless of the weather, although a clear sky and large moon are considered the luckiest for a girl's future.
Related Ethnicities

View from the future

The Feast of First Blood is one of the customs lost in the migration to the coast. In all descendant cultures the first menstrual cycle is still recognized as a significant milestone in a girl's life, but is not celebrated so formally.

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