The Traditional Vietnamese First Birthday Ceremony

Origin and meaning

The Traditional Vietnamese First Birthday Ceremony (Vietnamese: Đám Thôi Nôi) originate from China and gradually spread to other Eastern Asia countries such as Japan, Korea, Vietnam. According to the folk beliefs of these peoples, the Twelve Midwives ( Mười Hai Mụ Bà) are the goddesses who create the babies’ shapes, teach the babies to laugh, talk, walk and so on. The First Birthday Ceremony (Vietnamese: Đám Thôi Nôi) aims to give thanks to the Twelve Midwives who help babies form and develop from conception until 12 months of age. In addition, this is an opportunity to so that the child chooses occupation naturally and is also a chance to celebrate the baby being healthy in an early stage of life.

Offering to the Twelve Midwives

Offerings and setting the table

The main offerings of Đám Thôi Nôi are sweet soup, sticky rice. There are also other offerings such as flowers, fruit, tea, alcohol, chicken or duck boiled. Rich families can have extra roasted pigs. The offerings are displayed as follows:

– In front of the table, in the center, putting an incensory and on the right, putting a vase of flowers and on the left, putting a plate of fruit,

– In the middle of the table, putting a large bowl of sweet soup and a large bowl sticky rice,

– On 2 sides of the table, putting each side 6 bowls of sweet soup.

Conducting the ceremony

The father or the mother stands in front of the offering table, burns 3 incense sticks, sets on the forehead and prays, “Today is the day…month…year, Our family offer the offerings to the Mười Hai Mụ Bà in order to thank you for forming, feeding and teaching our child the full name …for 12 months and please continue to help our child get to be healthy and intelligent”. The praying finishes, he or she put incenses on the censer and nods 3 times.

Choosing an occupation

Vietnamese people think that each person must have an occupation to live. They let children choose careers according to their natural hobbies from an early age. Things for choosing a career of a child can be stick rice, pen, money, gold, scissors, comb, mirror and so on. Each object represents a profession. The pen represents office work, sticky rice represents agriculture, scissors represent sewing, comb and mirror represent makeup. All are put on a tray and set in the front of the child’s face. The parents let the child choose freely what he or she likes. After that, the relatives offer money or gold to the child. The money or gold is put into the tray.

Celebration Party

After the ceremony, the family holds a celebration party. Depending on the ability of the family, the party is large or small. The small party has duck meat, chicken; the large party has roasted pig. Today, families often organize live music (a performance that there is a band serves, any attenders can go freely to stage to sing). The guests often offer money and congratulate the family. The money is put in the red envelope that the host sent about a week ago.

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