Yesterday we attended our friends’ baby’s man yue (满月) or first month celebration.
Most races will have some sort of way of celebrating the first month of life of their newborn. It stems from celebrating the survival and well-being of babies in the past where the first month of being on earth was the period of time where the baby was the most vulnerable and susceptible to all sorts of “new and scary” things of the living world.
With all the medical advancement these days, we don’t have to worry about too much infection and disease and predators and what else you have that might pose a threat to the babe, but the tradition still keeps. And like I said in my previous post, there ain’t nothing like a paaaar-taay!
So anyway man yue parties are kind of a way to show off the baby and for the mummy who is probably just off confinement to eat something else on the pre-set “build your health back up” menu. (I hear you can go mad with the amount of ginger you’ll have in your food for a month)
Confinement seems to be a little more strictly adhered to in Singapore and Asian countries, maybe because we’re a little more more religious or cultural in the sense where we have lots of different superstitions. There are countless flaws with the confinement restrictions, but let’s not get into that yet..
So the man yue was a big point of discussion for me and the hubs a few months ago (again, before we even started trying and we were just contemplating the possibilities and consequences of being “with child’). I was saying that a man yue celebration more of less meant having to make sure you get your newborn pictures done post haste so that the pictures can get touched up and immediately sent to the commercialist man yue dogs who are lying in wait for you to consume their services and catering packages.
There are cute, little parcels that are available in different combinations and sizes and almost all of them look a little something like this:
I’ve stolen the significances of these items from a lovely site here
1) Red Eggs
Red eggs symbolises happiness and the renewal of life. It also served as an announcement for the arrival of a new born baby. According to the Chinese traditions, an even number of eggs are sent out for a baby boy, and an odd number for a baby girl.
These are literally eggs that are dyed red. Hard boiled. Something to do with the red being an auspicious colour?
2) Ang Ku Kueh (Red Tortoise Cake) – bean paste wrapped in red “kueh”
The shape signifies longevity, high symbolic and ritual values as turtles have long lives. They are used for ritual offerings during religious events and as gifts when a child is born (one month old) or during birthdays. In the olden days, the design on top of the Ang Ku Kueh will signify the sex of the child. A turtle and two marbles is the sign for a boy while a girl is represented by two peaches and Red Eggs. Nowadays, to simplify things, an Ang Yee signifies a boy while an Ang Ku represents a girl.
More Auspiciousness? I have no idea what “Ang Yee” and “Ang Ku” means… although the word “Ku” probably has something to do with “Ku Ku Jiao” which is like… a cuckoo Bird? Obviously symbolic for it’s other derogatory reference to the male dangly bits. (haha! First time I’m actually trying to translate that particular phrase, I was sniggering the entire time :X)
This is my FAVOURITE part of man yue celebrations. I’ve done quite a bit of scouting around and apparently there is no other significance for this, besides the fact that it is DELICIOUS. I will get my aunties to make me a whole pot of this shit so that I can hoard it and eat it all by myself MUAHAHAHA
Again, this is the time sensitive thing that will affect the timely delivery of your little man yue take-home goody bags for your guests and this is probably where the printing and styling will eat all your money. They mostly come out looking like this, and is just a simple way of announcing how big the watermelon was when he or she came out of you and also acknowledging what a fantastic job the mother did getting said watermelon out.
I honestly don’t like the design of all this stuff done commercially, and most of the time what happens is people just throw them away. Only relatives would take the time to preserve the pics and possible paste them on the fridge but other than that, probably only the parents and grandparents will be able to truly appreciate these.
So basically we were quite interested to do a bit of snooping around since it was the first baby full month we were attending ever since admitting to ourselves that we were pregnant.
We actually didn’t stay long because weekends are horribly busy for us, but I did come away thinking that it must be horribly stressful for the parents to HAVE to throw a party like this after barely a month getting used to being parents. Don’t even get me started on how the mother is going to have to try and work in losing some if not all of the pregnancy weight by the time the party rolls around, in addition to breast feeding, nappy changing and taking care of 2-hourly wake-up and go-back-to-sleep duties she’s got. (Although this running around is made a little easier to accept since it will obviously and hopefully apparently contribute to visible weight loss.)
I fully intend to try and get back to some exercising if I can find the time and energy. Like I was saying. I’m a little depressed that I was on the verge of getting skinny before finding out that we were going to have a baby.
What we really learnt after hanging around a little bit is sometimes you can really make do quite well without all the packages and the whole celebration thing. At the end of the day, what you really want is your family and loved ones to be around you to just celebrate a new life. It’s really very much like a birthday party.
Personally, I’ll be happy to home-make a batch of the above said stuff for samplers and just have an open house where everyone comes and spends time with John and I and the baby. Doing away with the food and stuff sounds a lot more feasible and I won’t have to worry about whether people are there for the free food and to taste-testing the buffet. (I told you that I’m an over-thinker right?)
Sometimes, the celebration is really not up to the parents. It’s kind of like a wedding in the sense that the now-grandparents want a chance to show off to their friends too. This will be what it will be in our case since John is an only kid AND the oldest grandson on his mother’s side who is married AND the only male kid in Singapore who is married as well as looks a teensy bit open to the idea of starting a family.
I don’t really like the idea of being “on parade” and even more so if it’s going to involve my kid, but I do want all the jiejies (older sisters) and korkors (older brothers), uncles and aunties to really get to know my baby. It is something to be said to be surrounded by so many people who want to meet you when you can barely stay awake or say anything coherent.
However we choose to go about having a man yue celebration, I’ll have to just keep in mind that it IS still a great way to really just kick start the baby’s life and that of being parents. So we’ll set up that decor and get the caterers in, and make it a moment to remember.
I don’t care as long as I have my glutinous rice,