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Children tend to reach puberty when, or after, they attain full growth. The cause might be the cold climate as well as other things, but the effect is that the general view of childhood extends into one's middle or late teens. No seventeen year old minds being addressed as "boy" or "girl" especially if they are still wearing the clothing common to children, which, except at special times (or in high ranking families) is genderless and more or less the same the world over: smocks and loose trousers, frequently to the knees in summer, and longer in winter.

Children are expected to do their share in family concerns, whatever that concern may be. Education varies tremendously, but it's expected of children to give some thought to future work, if their position in society hasn't dictated that. (And movement upward and downward is possible, though the difficulty can vary depending on place and time.)

Some children set off on the Long Wander, which means traveling to the local city, or even around the world. There is therefore usually a floating populace of children who earn their keep doing simple work, and many businesses depend on this constant flow of itinerant labor.

The onset of puberty is considered the first step toward adulthood. In many places this rite of passage is marked with celebrations such as "Flower Day" or "Name Day". The latter can be confusing because in some places "Name Day" is the equivalent of a birthday: it's the day a baby is presented to friends and family, given its name, and accepted into the community. The "Name Day" came about as a result of the Birth Spell, but it's been used interchangeably with Birthday in places its celebrated yearly.

However, in other places, the Name Day is the day when a child moves out of childhood to the next stage of life. Very frequently this can coincide with becoming a journeyworker, and the Name is a deliberate thing: at that time, one can change one's identity if one wishes. It's a time of declaration of life's work.

In upper ranks, frequently this rite of passage means one's formal introduction to society. At all levels, one is expected to work toward taking one's place in the adult world, and of course that means looking for a mate. Generally, few contract marriages at this young age, but in most places it's permitted. Long engagements are usually encouraged. The general wisdom is that marriage is better left until after adulthood. Before then, one is expected to flirt and romance.

The next rite of passage is legal adulthood, which generally occurs anywhere from 20 to 25, depending on the kingdom (and the time, as some laws have moved that age back and forth).

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Page last modified on January 21, 2008, at 12:26 PM