chinese: red egg & ginger party
Red Egg and Ginger Party where proud parents introduced their new baby to friends
and relatives. Traditionally, a newborn was not given a name or formally accepted into
the family until this time because, as in other countries, infant mortality rates in China
were quite high.  A baby who reached one month of age was likely to survive, and so
the event was celebrated.

The naming of the baby was very important because the Chinese believed that one's
name can influence everything that happens in life.  In selecting a name for the baby, it
was up to the family to decide if the given name will be the child's formal name or a
"milk name."  

  • The milk name is a nickname used until the child starts school, or even up until
    marriage.  If given a milk name, often a girls' name was chosen for a boy,
    because it was thought that a male child was the " special prey of evil spirits"
    and that these spirits will be tricked if the boy had a girl's name.  A female, and
    sometimes a male child, was given an animal name or called some sort of
    derogatory name in a joking sort of way.

  • A child's formal name was usually picked by it's grandparents or in some areas,
    a fortune-teller.  This was the name that was presented during the Red Egg and
    Ginger Party.

Traditionally, the baby's head was also shaved during this party.  The girls' head was
shaved before the image of "Mother", the Goddess of Children, and the boy's head
was shaved before the ancestral table.  The symbolism of this practice is not entirely
known, but it is speculated that this is the removing of the birth hair, to mark the point of
the child's independent existence.  Today, many Asian grandparents believe that
shaving the girls' head at birth is a way to encourage the growth of long, lustrous hair
although this practice isn't usually done during Asian American celebrations today.

In these modern times, parents continue to hold this celebration to signify the formal
acceptance of the new child into the family. The celebration dinner for the guests can
happen at home or in a restaurant.

What's the significance of Red Eggs and Ginger?
  • As in weddings or festivals, the color red represents happiness and good luck.
  • Eggs are significant because they symbolize fertility and the renewal of life.  
    Also, their shape is traditionally associated with harmony and unity. According to
    some sources, an even number of eggs means a daughter has been born, while
    an odd number represents a son.
  • Ginger is important because in the yin (cold) and yang (warm) balance of
    Chinese food, ginger adds a touch of 'hotness' to the nutritional needs of the new
    mother, who is tired and weak (or too yin) after giving birth.

Guests receive red-dyed eggs and ginger at the party. Additionally, instead of sending
thank you cards to the guests, more traditional parents may send thank you gifts
consisting of small round biscuits with pork in them.

What gifts should I bring?
Guests attending red egg and ginger parties can bring gifts of clothing or lucky money:

    Tiger Clothes
    Babies are given tiger hats, tiger shoes, and tiger bibs. In Chinese folklore, the
    tiger is the king of beasts and is believed to have special powers for protecting
    children. The tiger hat that covers their heads has gold, silver and jade charms
    sewn on it for good luck.

    The tiger shoes have embroidered
    eyes that are sewn wide-open. These open
    eyes on their feet help keep children from
    tripping as they first learn to walk!

    Lucky Money
    Lysee or "lucky money" in red envelopes was traditionally given to baby boys,
    while girls received expensive jewelry by close relatives. Nowadays, however,
    this tradition extends to all babies.