9 Period Euphemisms From Around The World

Period visibility has been having a moment. From Thinx’s badass subway ads to tampon tax protests, women are fighting for the widespread normalization of menstruation.

And yet, we're still pretty squeamish when it comes to directly referencing that time of the month. Case in point: Speakers of every language, all over the world, have a special euphemism to save them from coming out and just saying “menstruation” or even “period.”

We wish we lived in a world where this wasn't necessary, but until we do, at least we can laugh about these (occasionally clever) linguistic workarounds. Some make explicit, even graphic, references to menstrual fluid, while others were clearly developed to save face in polite company. And so in some ways, they can actually reveal how periods are viewed in different parts of the world.
Ahead, nine international menstruation euphemisms (translated into English), courtesy of period-tracker app Clue.

1 of 9
Slang term: Shark Week
Country of origin: United States
Translation value: This term is relatively accurate, but it depends on your flow. You’re probably more likely to use this term if your time of the month feels like a bloodbath, akin to the kind you’d see during the Discovery Channel’s yearly weeklong tribute to the ocean’s most famous predators.
2 of 9
Slang term: Strawberry Week
Country of origin: Germany
Translation value: This could be read as the gentler version of the U.S. “Shark Week.” We imagine laying in a field of strawberries, surrounded by various jams and pies. If your period is as pleasant as that, consider yourself very lucky. This term really only makes sense because the berries are red, like your menstrual fluid.
3 of 9
Slang term: The little clown with its nose bleeding
Country of origin: France
Translation value: If you're fine with comparing your uterus to a circus performer, and if you somehow escaped your childhood without any lingering fears of clowns, we won't stand in your way if you want to break this term out.
4 of 9
Slang term: Communists in the gazebo
Country of origin: Denmark
Translation value: Many European countries have their own variants of this term — sometimes the communists are in a funhouse or in the kitchen, for instance. You’d probably only use this expression in a winking, on-the-down-low way, when you don’t want everyone nearby to know you’re on your period: “There are communists in the gazebo,” you might say in response to your friend asking why you’re not in the mood for swimming.
5 of 9
Slang term: That thing comes
Country of origin: China
Translation value: Maybe it’s the word “thing,” or maybe it’s how vague it is, but this period term is strangely foreboding. In fact, more than anything, the villains from It Follows and the Halloween series leap most readily to mind. Maybe this is meant to speak to the inevitability of menstruation? Michael Myers is going to cross that street and go after Jamie Lee Curtis, no matter what, and your period is going to show up (and maybe stain your underpants) every month.
6 of 9
Slang term: Defrosting the steak
Country of origin: Spain
Translation value: We have some questions about this one. What is the “steak” in this situation? How does defrosting line up with shedding your uterine lining? Word to the wise: Breaking this term out in English will have mixed results.
7 of 9
Slang term: Blood festival
Country of origin: Japan
Translation value: This sounds like the title of a B-movie horror franchise — in a really appealing way. We can get behind any piece of period slang that puts a positive spin on your time of the month.
8 of 9
Slang term: Red Zhiguli
Country of origin: Russian
Translation value: This is a nickname for a Soviet-era Russian sedan — and not a particularly sporty sedan at that. But, if your period reminds you of a low-cost, relatively compact car that you can easily repair yourself, you’ve found the perfect euphemism.
9 of 9
Slang term: Red traffic light
Country of origin: Portugal
Translation value: It’s up for interpretation, but we’re reading this as a reference to sex while on your period. The popular conception is that women don’t want to have sex while they’re on their period, out of embarrassment or to avoid the mess; thus, they might give their partners a “red traffic light.” But please note that it’s totally fine to have sex on your period — and it might even help with cramps.

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