In dif­fe­rent coun­tries, the first mens­trua­tion is per­cei­ved and even cele­bra­ted dif­fer­ently. You may be won­de­ring: cele­bra­ting the first period? That’s exactly what Mari and her grandma did. Mari Sil­via Marín Pineda tells you about her first period in this guest arti­cle to bring you clo­ser to a beau­ti­ful tra­di­tion from Mexico.

I am an artis­ti­cally talen­ted woman from Juchi­tán, Oaxaca. A coun­try with a nar­row ter­ri­to­rial belt. There where the Zapo­tec souls vibrate won­der­fully as suc­ces­sors of the Mayas. I was born in the fall of 1976, the day after All Saints’ Day, “when the soul of the Xandú said good­bye,” said my abue­lita (Spa­nish for great-grandmother).

Cur­r­ently, I live in Metepec, Mexico. I owe my pil­grimage to love. I got mar­ried, and like the Ade­li­tas, I came to revo­lu­tio­nize in a place dif­fe­rent from my tiny home. And now here I am, wri­ting a short story of female nature, my first mens­trual period, which gave me two daugh­ters: Nata­lia, 11 years old, and Renata, 7 years old. I was bles­sed: By the ances­try that I carry in my spi­rit. By the inheri­tan­ces without a will. But much more valu­able than the mines of King Solomon.

Erste Periode feiern, Mari Silvia Marín Pineda, La Teca de Oro, Tradition für die erste Periode, erste Periode in Mexiko, mexikanische Perioden-Tradition, Menarca, Menarche & Traditionen, Ritual für die erste Periode, celebrating the first period, first menstrual period ritual, period celebration, first period party, period party, first period ritual, first period in mexico, mexican period ritual, Photo Credits: Mari Silvia Marín Pineda: https://www.facebook.com/tecadeoro/, Vulvani
Erste Periode feiern, Mari Silvia Marín Pineda, La Teca de Oro, Tradition für die erste Periode, erste Periode in Mexiko, mexikanische Perioden-Tradition, Menarca, Menarche & Traditionen, Ritual für die erste Periode, celebrating the first period, first menstrual period ritual, period celebration, first period party, period party, first period ritual, first period in mexico, mexican period ritual, Photo Credits: Mari Silvia Marín Pineda: https://www.facebook.com/tecadeoro/, Vulvani

Photo Credits: Mari Sil­via

The first point of contact with my menstruation

I knew abso­lutely not­hing about peri­ods. One day at school, my class­ma­tes asked me about my “pre­sent” (Spa­nish “regalo”, close to “regla” for mens­trua­tion). I thought they meant my ruler (Spa­nish “regla”). Of course, the ent­ire class burst out laug­hing. I was still very clu­eless at the time. I was only 10 years old, unlike my class­ma­tes, some of whom were already 13 or 14 years old.

My mother figure: my Abuelita

Having been rai­sed by my Abue­lita as a mother figure, I came to her that after­noon. The ques­tion bur­ned on my tongue, “Abue­lita, what is a period?”

My Abue­lita was a very old woman; that’s what we cal­led adults. Not to discri­mi­nate against her but with respect for the wis­dom, she brought as a grand­mo­ther at 81 years old. She was not at all sur­pri­sed by such a ques­tion. She silently put down her cof­fee, sat down, loo­ked at me, and said, “Now that the cof­fee is ready, I’m going to tell you all about mens­trua­tion. Cele­bra­ting your first period will fol­low next.” She was a Zapo­tec woman, and with all the calm­ness in the world, she said, “seven guenda guará stiu” (your ill­ness will come).

She told me that it was blood com­ing from my womb space. It was a warning that I could become a mother. Every woman on earth would have this encoun­ter in life to create life herself. I should not be afraid. When the time was right, when God gave me life, she would be by my side and accom­pany me. I was not sca­red at that time. Because I was still a little girl: Naughty and spi­ri­ted, who liked to play with boys and girls alike.

Erste Periode feiern, Mari Silvia Marín Pineda, La Teca de Oro, Tradition für die erste Periode, erste Periode in Mexiko, mexikanische Perioden-Tradition, Menarca, Menarche & Traditionen, Ritual für die erste Periode, celebrating the first period, first menstrual period ritual, period celebration, first period party, period party, first period ritual, first period in mexico, mexican period ritual, Photo Credits: Mari Silvia Marín Pineda: https://www.facebook.com/tecadeoro/, Vulvani
Erste Periode feiern, Mari Silvia Marín Pineda, La Teca de Oro, Tradition für die erste Periode, erste Periode in Mexiko, mexikanische Perioden-Tradition, Menarca, Menarche & Traditionen, Ritual für die erste Periode, celebrating the first period, first menstrual period ritual, period celebration, first period party, period party, first period ritual, first period in mexico, mexican period ritual, Photo Credits: Mari Silvia Marín Pineda: https://www.facebook.com/tecadeoro/, Vulvani

Photo Credits: Mari Silvia

How did my first period go?

On Janu­ary 11, 1989, at 12 years and 2 mon­ths, it came – LA MENARCA, my first mens­trua­tion. It was a win­ter night, after play­ing out­side all day with my friends. Before I went to sleep, I chan­ged in front of my sis­ter, who was 6 years older than me. She was lying in bed rea­ding when she said, “You got your period.” I loo­ked in my under­pants and dis­co­ve­red this big red spot. I went into a stu­por. Not that I didn’t know how to move, but because I didn’t know what to do.

I sud­denly had the urge to call my abue­lita. Thank God, I was lucky enough to have her accom­pany me in my life. My sis­ter got up from the bed and gave me a pad. I quickly went to the bathroom to place it in my under­pants. Of course, I had to go back to the room to ask my sis­ter for help. After all, I didn’t know how to put on a pad.

After I was able to place the pad, I fled into the arms of my abue­lita and said, “ma’biete guen­da­guará stine” (I got my mens­trua­tion as a gift). She then hug­ged me and said, “Your body has now become a woman, but your heart is still child­like. I have to take care of you now more than ever.”

Erste Periode feiern, Mari Silvia Marín Pineda, La Teca de Oro, Tradition für die erste Periode, erste Periode in Mexiko, mexikanische Perioden-Tradition, Menarca, Menarche & Traditionen, Ritual für die erste Periode, celebrating the first period, first menstrual period ritual, period celebration, first period party, period party, first period ritual, first period in mexico, mexican period ritual, Photo Credits: Mari Silvia Marín Pineda: https://www.facebook.com/tecadeoro/, Vulvani

Photo Credits: Mari Silvia

Celebrating the first period: I felt safe

You are now won­de­ring how I felt at that moment. I just felt safe in the arms of my old Abue­lita. Cele­bra­ting my first period was about to hap­pen. She lit a candle, said a prayer and a com­men­da­tion to God and the saints. My silence was part of the ritual to let her pray, and I let her inter­cede for my happiness.

The next day there were no more pads, so my abue­lita took a cot­ton cloth and star­ted making strips out of it. She arran­ged them in a rect­angle and left me about a dozen. She told me that they were not to be thrown away but was­hed and put in the sun to dry. Com­ple­tely without chlo­rine and only with soap. This washing of my cloths or fab­rics went on for several years, maybe three more years. This is also a noble way not to pol­lute the envi­ron­ment and to treat nature with love.

A Tradition in Mexico: Celebrating my first period

On Janu­ary 12, the 2nd day of my first period, Inés Felipe pre­pa­red a big bath­tub out­side in the sun for me. This was how my men­arca star­ted, and we were going to cele­brate my first period. The bath­tub was enri­ched with jas­mine flowers, lea­ves from the cor­don­cillo plant, orange blossoms, rose petals from Cas­tile, basil, rose­mary and, a bit of anise. To finish, she added some Eaux de Colo­gne “San­borns”. Sim­ply because it smel­led delicious.

The fragrant bath and the warming anointing

After mixing ever­ything, she asked me into the bath­tub. So I bathed in the sun, sur­roun­ded by these fan­tastic smells. She stood next to the bath­tub and wet­ted my head with a “jícara”, a uni­que bowl. Mean­while, she was whis­pe­ring thanks for my life and my future. I spent about 15 minu­tes in the bath­tub. Cele­bra­ting and loving the first period: it is a spe­cial feeling.

After­ward, she wrap­ped me in a towel and took me into the house. She put me in a bed and took a ther­mal oint­ment cal­led “vaquita”. She then began to rub my body with a gentle mas­sage. Star­ting with the head, then the neck, the arms, my belly – the oint­ment war­med my abdo­men. She said that as a child I had sat in cold as well as warm pla­ces. That cau­sed my organs to become cold or warm. With this bath and oint­ment, my body will attain the ideal warmth and avoid unne­cessary dis­com­fort. She con­ti­nued to ano­int me, down to my feet, and when she was finis­hed, she cove­red me.

I stayed in bed like this all day. She gave me chi­cken broth and corn grits to eat, not­hing irri­ta­ting or sour. I had the same food for the next three days when I had my period. I was not allo­wed to bathe for the remai­ning days of my period, only washing my face and arm­pits and con­stantly chan­ging my pads. When my period was over, I resu­med living nor­mally but very care­fully to avoid sud­den tem­pe­ra­ture changes.

Erste Periode feiern, Mari Silvia Marín Pineda, La Teca de Oro, Tradition für die erste Periode, erste Periode in Mexiko, mexikanische Perioden-Tradition, Menarca, Menarche & Traditionen, Ritual für die erste Periode, celebrating the first period, first menstrual period ritual, period celebration, first period party, period party, first period ritual, first period in mexico, mexican period ritual, Photo Credits: Mari Silvia Marín Pineda: https://www.facebook.com/tecadeoro/, Vulvani

Photo Credits: Mari Silvia

Celebrating the first period with an anointing

As she ano­in­ted me, she prayed in a low voice to the hig­her power for my life. Not­hing struc­tu­red, but the women of my cul­ture did it this way. They prayed softly as they ano­in­ted you. They enve­lop you with their soft­ness, and you just lay still. My silence is part of the first-period ritual.

I didn’t remem­ber if the girls in my class were also cele­bra­ting their first period. But I never for­get that a wise woman rai­sed me. One of the old ones who had a par­ti­cu­lar love lan­guage, and I knew it without asking.

My life after the first menstruation

So my life went along, in har­mony with my nature, without pain or dis­tur­bance. A cycle of 45 days for the first few years and when I was in my adult­hood, 28 days. I never com­p­lai­ned when my period came. On the con­trary, it was syn­ony­mous with ever­ything going well inside me: I had har­mo­nious pregnan­cies – healthy and full of love. Now I have two girls; Nata­lia is about to have her first mens­trua­tion. I tal­ked to her about my men­arca and told her that my abue­lita cele­bra­ted my first period with me. My daugh­ter is happy to be part of this ritual.

There is no fear, no taboo and no rejec­tion of some­thing natu­ral. I have lived it this way from the begin­ning with the immense secu­rity that my abue­lita gave me. That has mar­ked me for life, and I believe bey­ond my life through my descendants.

Erste Periode feiern, Mari Silvia Marín Pineda, La Teca de Oro, Tradition für die erste Periode, erste Periode in Mexiko, Mexikanische Perioden-Tradition, Menarca, Menarche & Traditionen, Ritual für die erste Periode, celebrating the first period, first menstrual period ritual, period celebration, first period party, period party, first period ritual, first period in mexico, mexican period ritual, Photo Credits: Mari Silvia Marín Pineda: https://www.facebook.com/tecadeoro/, Vulvani
Erste Periode feiern, Mari Silvia Marín Pineda, La Teca de Oro, Tradition für die erste Periode, erste Periode in Mexiko, mexikanische Perioden-Tradition, Menarca, Menarche & Traditionen, Ritual für die erste Periode, celebrating the first period, first menstrual period ritual, period celebration, first period party, period party, first period ritual, first period in mexico, mexican period ritual, Photo Credits: Mari Silvia Marín Pineda: https://www.facebook.com/tecadeoro/, Vulvani

Photo Credits: Mari Silvia

Let’s celebrate the first period

I share this life story of my tribe and the ritual of my first period with all my heart. So that these ritu­als are not lost, and we can all cele­brate our first period. But most of all, to honor this great woman, my abue­lita. Without spea­king Spa­nish or having a pri­mary edu­ca­tion, she left an incredi­ble legacy worth sharing.

My Abue­lita died in the spring of 2000, born in Juchi­tàn, Oaxaca, on April 20, 1905, and bore fruit through her only son, grand­child­ren, and great-grandchildren.

As long as I live, she will be in my suns and espe­cially my moons.

Mari Sil­via Marín Pineda

La Teca de Oro.

Mari Silvia Marín Pineda
Mari Silvia 

Mari Sil­via Marín Pineda is the foun­der of 'La Teca de Oro', a brand of tra­di­tio­nal Mexi­can clot­hing. She lives in Metepec, Mexico and pas­ses on the beau­ti­ful tra­di­ti­ons about first period, lear­ned from her grandma, to her children.