Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The other day, one of the receptionists at the school where I teach passed out little red bags tied with bright gold ribbon. Inside were two hard boiled eggs sealed in plastic. She was celebrating her baby's one-month birthday, the two eggs symbolizing a boy baby. Had her child been a girl, she would have included only one egg in each bag.
It's a tradition to celebrate a baby's first month, not only in China, but all over Asia. When I was in Vietnam, I attended a one-month birthday celebration, with lots of food & drink, the baby making only a brief appearance.
The one-month celebration goes back to a time when infant mortality was high, & it wasn't certain if a baby would survive. So families would wait a month to be sure that the child would live. Only then would the baby get a name, & only then did the family dare to celebrate the birth.
These days, especially in cities like Shanghai with easily accessible health care, parents don't worry so much over infant mortality, but the tradition lives on.