When a baby turns 1 month old, many Chinese parents host a celebration known as a "Red Egg and Ginger Party" in which the baby receives a name and is lauded with gifts by her friends and family. Due to the dire infant mortality rates in China prior to the early 20th century, surviving the first month was a cause for celebration. Despite much improved mortality rates, many families carry on this celebration as a symbol of their cultural past. Traditional Chinese gifts--many including symbols of prosperity and protection--also make ideal gifts for births, adoptions and other milestones.
Gifts of cash, tucked into a red envelope, remain a popular Chinese traditional baby gift. This monetary offering is said to bring prosperity and happiness to the recipient, according to Branden Black, David Levine, Jessica Oh and Alex Wei of the University of California Irvine Anthropology Department. Also commonly given during Chinese New Year's celebrations, these gifts of cash carry on a centuries-old tradition. The amount of the monetary gift usually varies depending on the relationship between the giver and recipient.
Many families celebrate the new baby's life with a necklace or bracelet adorned with a long-life lock--a traditional gift for many 1-month-old babies, according to the Cultural China website. In the Chinese culture, the lock served as a symbol of protection, which theoretically helped ward off evil. Children commonly removed these locks on their wedding day when their families considered them fully grown.
Jade Charms and Jewelry
Jade, a long-standing symbol of protection in Chinese culture, is commonly made into bracelets or charms and gifted to the new baby. According to the Oracle Education's ThinkQuest Library, Jade ornaments remain a popular gift today. Many people like to gift the new baby with jade charms in the shape of the his Chinese astrology symbol--like boars, monkeys, rats or dragons.
100 Good Wishes Quilt
Commemorate the new life with a cherished Northern Chinese tradition incorporating the good wishes and thoughts of 100 friends and family members. A Bei Jia Bei or "100 Good Wishes Quilt" consists of 100 squares of cloth contributed by loved ones and made into a quilt. While today's givers usually choose colourful fabric squares--in ancient Chinese tradition they donated a wish and a scrap of old clothing, which the baby's mother sewn together. Families usually cherish the quilt for generations, often passing it down from one family member to the next.
- University of California Irvine Anthropology Department: Red Envelopes
- "A Quilt of Wishes;" Teresa Orem Werner; 2005