Childbirth in China is as important an event as marriage in the life of Chinese families. Some customs are similar, but others are specific to celebrating each of the key stages in Baby’s early life.
The traditional “Yuezi”
The baby is fragile at birth. Just like the mother, he is subject to the traditional “Yuezi”, a confinement time of at least one month or more according to different local traditions. During this first period, the whole family has only one goal: to make him grow as much as possible to make him less vulnerable.
The distribution of red eggs
Red has always been the favorite color of the Chinese to celebrate happy events. Childbirth is no exception, and it is customary for the parents of the newborn to offer red colored eggs to those around them to share the good news. With the modernization of society, the younger generations continue to perpetuate this tradition but sometimes replace eggs with chocolates or other sweets specially marketed with red packaging for such occasion.
The head shave
Shaving the baby’s head when he is one month old (or three depending on the local practice) is common. The goal is to get rid of the thin and brittle birth-hair to allow it to grow back stronger. Hairdressers have specialized in this area and often offer their services at home. The key to their success is the souvenir they offer families by turning Baby’s freshly shaved hair into calligraphy brushes.
The 100 days’ celebration
For Chinese people, living a hundred years is a sign of longevity (“长命 百岁” chang ming bai sui). Some people celebrate the 100 days with great fanfare like a wedding with ceremony, meals, guests, and red envelopes. The goal is to wish the child to live for 100 years.
The celebration of the 1st anniversary
When the child turns one year old, another ceremony awaits him to take his destiny in hand (“抓 周” zhua zhou). Parents prepare a large table on which are arranged various objects within his reach, each representing a possible future for him. Depending on what the child catches, the item is supposed to represent the path he will take. The most offered objects are a dictionary (literate), a calculator (businessman), a flute (musician), a baguette (restaurateur), a shoe (explorer), etc.
The immortalization of the child’s key moments
Each stage of Baby’s life is precious. Photographers have understood this well and offer professional photoshoots to capture all these key moments, from Mom’s pregnancy to the baby’s 3 years old. It is a whole industry that revolves around the child, the weak point of Chinese families. Indeed, even if the one-child policy was abolished in 2015, it remains a delicate subject with disastrous consequences for the country’s demographic balance.
An Article by Delphine Hœur, a China Expert for Bienvenue Factory in Shanghai, China