According to common superstition, eating a lot of spicy food or suffering from frequent heartburn during pregnancy might mean that a baby will be born with a full head of hair. If that is the case for your baby, you might soon be thinking about scheduling an appointment at the barber shop. For some parents, cutting their baby’s hair for the first time is just another chore on the list of many things parents are busy doing. For others, it is a time to remember and cherish. Those parents might purchase keepsake trinkets or mark the date and length down in a baby book. Some parents might find that they are experiencing a lot of anxiety and stress when booking the appointment because they are worried about their baby feeling afraid or uncomfortable and wriggling around.
It is an experience that can be very personal for the new parents, but not everyone believes that the concerns and/or joys of cutting a baby’s hair for the first time should be shared only amongst immediate family members. In some Polynesian communities, oftentimes the baby’s first haircut does not happen until they have reached puberty! Getting a haircut for the first time is incorporated into a right-of-passage ceremony that involves the whole community. Gifts such as money or a brightly colored quilt called a Tivaevae are given, there are traditional dances performed, and it is a very special time that is honored and celebrated. You can read more about this tradition by checking out Miguel Gutierrez’s blog post that includes a video of one young man’s haircutting celebration.
In contrast to waiting until puberty to cut hair, those who wish to practice Aqiqah, believe that a baby’s hair should be cut on the 7th day after birth. This is just one interpretation of the right time to celebrate, as it is generally okay to do this at anytime before the child reaches puberty. This Islamic tradition brings people together to rejoice over the birth and to thank Allah for a happy and healthy new baby. One of the main focuses of this tradition is a focus on community not only through the celebration with loved ones, but also by donating. At this time, the baby’s hair will be shaved and then weighed. Donations are made based on the weight of the hair. You can learn more about how donations can happen and the religious aspects of this tradition here.
For some people, understanding of the importance of haircutting begins long before the baby is even born. Similar to thinking that spicy food will make the baby hairy, there is also a belief that if the birth-person cuts their hair while they are pregnant, the baby might be born bald. Other people believe that doing so might even cut the life of the baby!
Written by Gabrielle Cappelletti, the intern.