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Tradition – Chinese

Posted By Tiffany Chang On April 13, 2011 @ 5:58 am In Customs,general,Gestation, birth, and infancy,Initiations,Life cycle | Comments Disabled

After a mother has a baby, she is not allowed to shower or leave the house for a month.  After the baby has survived the first month, there is a welcoming party.

Karena does not believe in this tradition because she finds that it is extremely difficult to stay at home for an entire month with a baby.  She limits her outgoings to a bare minimum, letting other people do her grocery shopping and errands.  However, she thinks that this tradition was started in the early days when there it was not safe for women to leave the house during the first month of birth.  In fact, she learned from her mother-in-law that they were not even supposed to shower because they did not have blow dryers.  Her mother-in-law, who is a first generation Chinese, said that leaving the house with the hair wet will cause the mother to get sick and not be able to take care of the baby.

Keeping a baby healthy is important in the Chinese culture, especially when technology was not advanced as it is now.  Before, they had to be extremely cautious with their newborns because they did not have any western medicine to cure diseases and colds.  So, the mother is protected by having this tradition of not showering or leaving the house.  In this day and age, this tradition is ignored by Chinese-Americans, yet is still common in undeveloped areas.  The lack of showering is out of the question for Americans, but staying in the house for a month is still frequently followed.  The mother should be resting and taking care of the baby; leaving the house would be deemed unnecessary.  After a month, the Chinese throw a party to celebrate the child’s birth.  This is often believed to be a tradition because in the olden days, the babies did not always survive the first month.  If it did survive, then it was believed that they were healthy enough to live a long and prosperous life, which is a reason enough to celebrate.  During this party, the baby is dressed up in its best clothes and presented to the parents’ family and friends.  This party is to remember a baby’s rite of passage into the real world after its birth.

By keeping the baby and the mother safe, the Chinese can ensure a safe life and then celebrate the baby’s birth.


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URL to article: http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=4988