Twelve months is upon us and we’re already in full party-planning swing. What they say is true, time really does pass in the blink of an eye. Our little lady has been pure joy and adventure from day one, and we’re so excited for every new milestone and experience.
Celebrating her Ba’s birthday
We did her one-month name day ceremony, and will be placing out objects for her to select her future profession at the one year birthday bash. For those who haven’t been to an Asian one-year birthday party, essentially you place objects in front of the tot and whatever little Johnny or Jane picks is her future profession. I’ve been to Vietnamese and Korean versions of this and they, essentially, are the same. Of course there is some bias to the parents in what objects are offered.
The Vietnamese tradition is called Thôi Nôi (or, leaving cradle – excuse me while I grab the tissues).
In doing some reading, there are several accounts I have found for the Vietnamese tradition.
- Place several objects on the ground in front of them and whatever they grab is it!
- Place 12 objects in a tray and allow the tot to explore them. Whatever they end up with (for the most amount of time, I guess), is their future.
Twelve is an auspicious number for this ceremony, as I read, which also is a nice parallel to the number of months they have been on earth (my own interpretation). The ceremonial altar table is similar to that from the one-month ceremony, but with twelve offerings (preferred) for some items. From one account:
We often pray to “God-mothers” – called “Bà Mụ” – who support the baby during his childhood. In our belief, there are 12 God-mothers and that’s why we have 12 pieces for each ceremonial offerings.
Plans are still coming together, but I’m most excited to see what our little gem selects for her future!
What objects did you place before your child?
You may have noticed a significant absence over the past 10 months. Most notably I left you hanging on our amazing trip to Vietnam.
I was working on a very important project that pretty much kept me out of the kitchen. Yesterday we celebrated the Đầy Tháng, or First/Full Month of our daughter, born late July. We are so over the moon, and I’m getting back in the kitchen.
But first, a little bit about this beautiful first month rite, as I’ve come to understand. Celebrating a baby’s first full month stems from traditional Vietnam where infant mortality was unfortunately quite common. It was considered back luck in inviting negative spirits if you named a baby before they made it to this important milestone. So traditionally, we would not have named our daughter until this event when our extended family would have come to meet her for the first time and share blessings for her future.
We set the table with sweet offerings and prepared incense to say prayers and thank the higher being for creating such a perfect life in our daughter. Even my parents shared in this, which was very special for me.
The second part involved moving a flower over her mouth and stating our wishes for her future. My mother in law explained the significance as imparting the wishes to her and giving her the ability to clearly communicate such wishes for a successful future.
Her grandmother, or Ba Ngoai, went first — which reminds me I need to ask what she said!
Then I shared my wishes for our daughter, using a new flower.
Followed by my mother, who enjoyed being a part of the ceremony!
Once the incense burns down and offerings are made, it’s time to eat!
My mother in law’s nuoc mam gung (ginger dipping sauce) is legendary. No one in the family makes it like her.
I have made several feeble attempts that mostly proved to be failures. Edible, but failures nonetheless. Rather than ask her to make the sauce for me every time I prepare Bun Mang Vit (Duck and bamboo noodle soup), vermicelli bowls, or any of the other dishes we enjoy with the sauce, it was time for me to learn.
Over and over she says “No measurements, just taste.”
But I still need to see about how much of everything goes in to this magical concoction.
We called her up the other weekend and said we’d be over to make the sauce with strong warnings not to have it already made before we arrived. She didn’t make it, thankfully, but had the other ingredients ready and waiting.
And the results were glorious.
Last night as I was flipping through Facebook and Instagram posts of friends and family, my heart swelled like it so often does around the holidays. We all have so very much to be thankful for, which shouldn’t be concentrated in just one day a year.
This morning [Friday, actually…I didn’t finish this blog in one sitting], for instance, I’m sitting at the dining room table working on this blog with my niece flipping through Christmas music stations on Pandora on the couch across from me. She also plugged in the Christmas tree that she and her sister helped us decorate yesterday after dinner. Family, peace, and Girl Scout Samoa coffee creamer are certainly on the Thankful List.
Anywho, yesterday was a success. We survived – the kitchen, our sanity, and maybe even waistlines. I learned one very important lesson in hosting Thanksgiving: Prepare 1/3 of the food that I *think* I need.
This is seriously a problem of mine, guys. There were more leftovers than what was eaten. It didn’t help that we had the extra Chinese and Viet dishes.
I mean, look at this well-stocked table!