According to Chinese custom, celebrating a baby’s birth doesn’t take place until he or she is a month old. This tradition dates back to a time before modern medicine, when infant mortality rates were high. So if a baby made it to his or first month safely, that was truly a reason for celebration because it meant chances were high that the baby would survive. Also, by this time the mother would have completed her confinement period, and therefore able to leave the home and receive visitors. For these reasons, the baby’s full month, or Man Yue is the ideal time for celebration!
What does celebrating baby’s full month involve?
Typically, a family celebrating a baby’s full month will hold a party and invite plenty of guests to come to the party. Most of these parties usually take place at home or in a condominium’s function hall, although many are also held at restaurants. It is common to cater a buffet for the guests, with traditional ‘auspicious’ treats like red-dyed eggs, ang ku kueh and pickled red ginger being offered
Your guests will come bearing red packets (ang bao), baby hampers, toys or gift vouchers for your baby, just like the Chinese version of a baby shower.
Why do we offer auspicious foods?
Mainly, all these ‘red’ foods represent luck and happiness. Eggs represent new life and harmony, while ginger is good for Qi. Ang Ku Kueh is a traditional Hokkien rice cake popular in Singapore and Malaysia, shaped like a red turtle (hence the name 红龟粿) and stuffed with a variety of pastes like peanut, mung bean, durian and more. Turtles represent longevity and wealth, so you can see why they are considered a must-have at full month celebrations.
How do I prepare for celebrating baby’s full month?
First, you’ll have to decide what kind of party you want to have and who you want to invite. Based on that, you can choose a venue and caterer for your event. Many caterers have special packages for full month celebrations.
If you’re having a traditional celebration, you will have to buy a large quantity of eggs, boil them in water with salt and vinegar to soften the shells, before dipping them in red dye. This can be something experienced relatives can help you with. Be aware that if you have a boy, you’re expected to give an odd number of red eggs, while for a girl, it’s an even number. If you’re serving ang ku kueh, you have to know what sorts to order: dome-shaped ang ku kueh for a boy, and flat ones for a girl.
It is also the custom to order cakes to distribute to relatives, friends and colleagues. Traditionally, butter cakes were popular, but modern couples can choose any kind, ranging from chocolate cakes to cupcakes and cookies. Some also give their guests cake vouchers which can be redeemed at a later date.
What if I’m not hosting a party?
Even if you’re not hosting a full month party, it’s still customary to distribute red eggs and full month cakes to relatives, friends and colleagues, as a way of making a birth announcement and also as a thank you for any gifts you may have received