Sounds like an epic Chinese blockbuster doesn’t it? For some mums this is not too far from the truth! The 100 first days is a traditional celebration that marks the end of the first 3 months of life for a new baby — in other words, it’s the end of the fourth trimester! The traditional Chinese believe that the first 100 days is when the baby and mum are most vulnerable to the elements, so they were advised to stay indoors to avoid illness. Another tale explains that in the days of yore it was rare for a baby to survive the first 100 days, so when they did it was a cause for celebration!
While Chinese, Korean and Japanese families typically celebrate the first 100 days; in Singapore most Chinese families celebrate their baby’s first full month – otherwise known as the ‘Full Moon’. Essentially the point of both celebrations is to celebrate the welcoming of a new baby into the family, and… well do we really need more of an excuse for a party?
If you’re going to go the completely traditional route for this celebration, there are some rituals that will need to be observed.
On the morning of this auspicious day, the family will burn offer prayers to the gods and ancestors of their home. This includes food offerings and burning incense, thus informing the deities of the new addition, and appealing to the spirits to protect the child. Families will also be required to shave the baby’s head. It’s more common these days for families to simply snip a lock of hair as a symbolic nod to this ritual. The shaving of the head is a sign of preparing the baby for life in the community with good health, happiness and success.
Once the head is shaved, the mother and baby are bathed in water mixed with pomelo leaves, to help wash away and ward off bad luck and evil. Usually the baby is dressed in red and adorned with gold accessories during this ritual as well.
Once the traditional rituals are complete, it’s party time! As with all celebrations involving more than just the people within your home, you will first need to figure out your party details – the guest list, the date, the food – and using these helpful party-planning tips from The Party Elves organising your gathering will be a breeze!
First things first… it doesn’t matter whether you invite 10 or 100 people, what’s most important is that you enjoy celebrating your new baby! In terms of party details, a mix of old and new is always a nice twist, and you can host your party either at home or at a nice restaurant. Do what is best and works for you.
Grandparents often LOVE the opportunity to plan something as momentous as this. It’s a great way for them to get involved while you get on with the joy of getting to know your new baby. Alternatively, you can always call on an event planner to help you with all the details you need (like The Party Elves!) or you can turn to any of the major hotels in Singapore to assist, as most offer a Full Moon package that includes a catered meal and the red eggs giveaway.
Goodie bags with Red eggs and Ang Ku Kueh are a must when planning a 100 days party as it represents fertility and the cycle of life. You could take personalisation one-step further and order Ang Ku Kueh if you’re celebrating a baby girl, or Ang Ee if it’s a baby boy that you’re introducing to the family. Try SingaporeMochi.com to get your red eggs and Kueh… They also supply savoury glutinous rice and offer Full Moon gift boxes. Too easy mama!
Give your goodie bags a contemporary personal touch by including a non-traditional favour – like a picture of the family, or a framed piece of blanket or memento that is specific to your family. You can get cheap frames from Daiso or Ikea, and for cheap photo printing turn to any of the printers at the Bras Basah Complex to help you out.
Some families include roast meats, savoury glutinous rice and traditional buns at their gatherings. Each dish is significant in its offering, as in days gone past these items were hard to come by and so their presence meant it was a special occasion. Try and stick to a traditional menu if your guest list allows it so that you and your guests get to experience these important traditions. If you’re holding your event at home, several caterers offer specific full moon packages, where you’ll be able to choose your favourite dishes. Try Full-House Confectionary for their full moon options and hi-tea buffet choices.
Finally, if your family has any particular dishes that are only made on special occasions, by all means include these in your party menu… oh and don’t forget the pickled ginger either mama. The Cantonese word for “sour” has the same pronunciation as grandson, so it’s said that the sour pickled ginger signifies many more grandsons to come!
Enjoy the party, mama!
Chinese Birth Rituals, by Teresa Rebecca Yeo, May 2013