Sorry guys, this is a long post. If you want to know more about the origins of a One Month party, read the first
few five paragraphs. If not, feel free to skip down.
Many Asian cultures celebrate a newborn’s one month milestone. Full moon, Full month, One Month, Red Egg and Ginger – it has many names. Traditionally, it was more often for baby boys, but I’m happy to see several one month parties for baby girls these days. It’s interesting how ancient and modern have melded in places like Singapore where the parties are a nod to tradition but with a very western flare. In the United States it’s more common to see a baby shower happen before the mom-to-be delivers her baby. The thought behind it is to “shower” her in gifts beforehand so she is prepared when the baby arrives and needs are met. However, many parts of the world tend to wait until the child is born to celebrate. This is for several reasons, but also practically for the consideration of infant mortality and loss.
The full month or welcome baby celebration is held afterward to ensure baby is here and healthy and the friends and family can celebrate with both mom/parents and the baby all at once. IT IS the equivalent of a baby shower, and often are larger ordeal with grandiose food and sometimes ceremonies. And instead of diaper cakes and stroller group gifts, you often see jewelry and money gifts.
Part of the ancient/traditional process of the one month practice is to isolate the mom and baby for a whole month at home as they bond and heal from the birth process; meaning neither of them step out of the house and the mom is cared for by family members. During this time, people outside of the household are not supposed to visit or have contact with the baby. There are some outdated practices that aren’t always followed these days such as not showering the entire duration, drinking broth concoctions, and keeping yourself super warm/sweating/steaming. In older times, with the limited access to medicine and medical care, some of these ideals with the isolation were to ensure that the mom replenished herself and the baby did not get sick from the public and visitors.
It is beautiful to think that elderly family members like moms, aunties, and grandmothers make themselves available to encourage and care for the new mom almost around the clock. That’s something I love about this part of my culture. Family is always there for you; you are never expected to feel helpless or go through something alone. At the end of the month, the period of isolation is lifted and celebrated with a one month party.
I can assure you my SIL did none of these things although my nephew has been a delightful handful and in that sense they haven’t left the house much. He began cluster feeding very early and they worked hard to help him get to his birth weight as it took him a little longer to do so. No one really got to hold him or visit since they were working on getting him to eat and sleep on a schedule.
Little Kai’s one month celebration this weekend is more to honor the tradition and celebrate a new generation of family. We will not be following the hair and nail cutting ceremony [actually, you are to shave the babe’s head in Chinese tradition] or the pomelo leaf bath the day of the party. My dad also won’t be picking out the baby’s Chinese/Khmer name as the paternal grandfather. But, I’m hoping my mom might have one to suggest for fun. It is very important during the One Month Celebration to show filial piety in the form of offering food and incense to deceased ancestors and announcing the arrival of a new family member. This is buddhist practice, and we want to be careful as we are Christians but still give respect to our deceased family. Instead, we are not burning incense and offering anything as a food sacrifice, but we do plan remember my grandma and in her honor, mention her and how it would have been beautiful to have her meet Kai. We hope that we aren’t blurring the lines too much but at the end of the day, God knows our hearts.
A lot of the fun comes in the form of decorations and food. We will have lots of red around the home as it symbolically is a happy and lucky color for us. My parents ordered a whole roast pig that costs probably the equivalent of a smaller Louis Vuitton handbag. That’s the centerpiece of the feast. There’s also noodle dishes as the longs strands stand for longevity. I’m going to boil and dye some red eggs which are full month essential food item. Eggs represent fertility, birth, and new life. Usually the guests walk away with a little package of eggs and red peanut cakes as the “goodies.” An even number of eggs and pointed cakes are given for a boy, and an odd number and flat cakes are given for a girl. Since we spent a small fortune on the pig, I suggested almond kisses instead of peanut cakes. Both are pointed and contain nuts.
I’m so glad we can carry on this tradition and that friends and family from far away get to meet Kai. My SIL’s grandfather, who is very ripe in age, is traveling all the way from North Carolina that weekend, my uncle and family from a neighboring state, and one of my dearest friend will be here from a few states away. He is truly a delight and one of the cutest babies around, although that statement is rather biased. 😉