Before a newborn turns one month old, neither the mother nor the baby ventures outside of the house. The baby especially can never go to any public places. However, when the baby turns one month old, there is a full month party. Friends and relatives come to the mother’s house to celebrate the baby’s first month. They drink alcohol and give the baby money or gifts to congratulate his or her life. In return, the mother and father will provide hard-boiled eggs that are painted many different colors for their friends and family to eat to show their gratitude for them.
Up until a few decades ago, it was not uncommon for babies in China to die before they reached one month of age. Living conditions, especially in the rural areas of China, were not up to par and many diseases floated around. Therefore, it was a big deal for a baby to survive its first month, because it was much more likely for it to live a normal life without complications. In some areas, babies weren’t even given names until they turned one month old. The Chinese tradition of celebrating a baby’s first full month has carried over to the modern day, despite newborn mortality rates being much lower than ever before. The eggs that are given to guests to eat are a symbol of fertility.
This tradition is especially hits home for my informant. She was the youngest of 5 in her family, the oldest being her brother and then three older sisters. She was born and raised in rural China, only moving to the United States when she was 28 years old. After my informant’s mother had her son and the first two daughters, she gave birth to two boys one year apart from each other. The first boy died before he reached his first month, but the other lived to be two years old before passing away from disease. Although my informant never met her two older brothers, it is still something that the whole family will with their whole lives. So, the full month celebration for all of the babies in the extended family have been and will continue to be elaborate, grand parties with a lot of love.