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5 Cultures, 5 Unique Hair Removal Customs


Today hair removal is seen as a necessary chore, an opportunity to pamper oneself, or a chance assume a new look; but in many cultures parting with hair can be an important event signifying the embrace of religious faith, coming of age, or loss of a family member. We’ve highlighted five of the most unique ways different cultures throughout history have celebrated hair removal.

Catholic Tonsure

Catholic “tonsure,” or Latin “tonsura,” involves shaving the crown of one’s head as indication of devotion to a certain clerical order. Some believe the practice references the Christian apostle Peter being “shaved” by people who initially mocked the word the Lord, while other believed it was a humbling gesture that mimics the shaved heads of slaves back in the Roman Empire. Tonsures have occurred in private or formal ceremonies, with some removing a few symbolic locks in the shape of a cross and others shaving the scalp clear of a large bowl-sized patch of hair.

Jewish Upsherin

In some Jewish traditions boys are not given haircuts until their third birthday when the “upsherin" ceremony takes place. The ceremony involve blessings by Rabbis, cropping of the hair to create side locks or "peyos," and the trade of sheared hair for its weight in gold or silver. In Hassidic traditions the “yarmulke” and “tzitizi” head pieces will be worn afterwards, and the ceremony is sometimes paired with a practice where children lick honey off Hebrew writing, symbolizing how learning the Torah will be sweet for them.

Hindu Mundan or Chadakarana Ceremony

Many sects of the Hindu religion associate the hair grown directly after birth with negative aspects of previous lives. At around eleven months the first haircut is performed on girls and the timeframe differs for boys. Some traditions dictate that all hair is shaved off, while others leave a small tuft called a “sihka” around the crown of the head to preserve memories accumulated since birth. Other significant haircuts in the Hindu faith fall around the death of a family member, when all hair is shorn off as an offering to their disembodied deity.

Cook Islander’s First Haircut

The Cook Islanders have an elaborate ceremony for all first-born boys’ initial haircuts, which occur at the age of twelve. The boy sits on a chair and is draped with quilts called “tivaevae” and his hair is braided. Each member of the community then passes by the boy, snips a plait, and keeps it in exchange for a present to help him assume the role of an adult. Afterward, a gigantic feast is enjoyed by all attendants, extended family, and the local community.

Chinese Lucky Haircut

Chinese traditionalists believe that getting a haircut on the second day of the second lunar month during the "Year of the Rabbit" is good luck. The day is referred to "Er Yue Er," translated to mean a day for "the dragon to raise its head." The Year of the Rabbit arrives in cycles of twelve years, and on this special day Chinese barber shops stay open for up to eighteen hours to accommodate all people vying for a trim. According to superstition, getting a haircut during the lunar month preceding Er Yue Er will lead to the death of a maternal uncle.

Whether for religion, celebration, or superstition, people from all walks of life put a lot of time and energy into hair removal practices. If you’re interested in learning about more convenient and effective ways to remove unwanted hair, contact us today. Our representatives will get you in touch with a premium laser hair removal clinic in your area.

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