Guest Author - Caroline Baker
In many traditional families, celebrating the birth of a child occurs at the baby’s one month birthday. To celebrate or discussion the child prior to birth is considered very bad luck.
This belief is shared by many ancient cultures, including Judaism. While there is a superstitious side to it, there is also the reality of the lifestyle these cultures endured. In olden times, before the advent of antibiotics and vitamins, it was not uncommon to lose a child at birth. If the child survives the birthing process, the first month of their life is generally a period where their immune system is developing. Even in the modern world, this is a time when doctors increase their scrutiny of the baby.
During this month, the mother and child rest. The mother is encouraged to do no work, not even housework, as her body recuperates. She may end up drinking various herbal fluids and certain foods like pigs feet to "cleanse" her body and build up her strength again. The baby will go through similar rituals such as not bathing until the third day and wearing "protective" clothing to ward off any demons who wish to steal the child away. The protective clothing could range from special blankets to hats with a lot of decoration to jewelry. Basically anything that would distract, hide, or attract the would-be demons to some other objective.
When the child survives its first month, it is a good indication that the baby will survive. At this time, the family holds a big party for the newborn. As with many Chinese celebration, this often means a big dinner banquet. Guests come with red paper envelopes filled with money as tokens of good luck. Red overall plays a big part in the celebration as a sign of luck and prosperity. This is truly the first time much of the family has meet the newborn.
The Chinese culture is made up of many different subcultures, about as diverse as the number of dialects that exist in the language. For some, this party is known as the "red egg and ginger" party. Guests will receive eggs dyed red to take home as a symbol of good luck. Other sects of the Chinese culture will adorn the baby with gold jewelry (normally in the form of bracelets or anklets) to "tie" down the child to this world. Some families will not even name their child until this party. And some will vary the party based on what gender the child is.
All in all, the one month birthday part is one of the major celebrations in the Chinese culture and it is the first that greets a newborn into this culture.