Chinese Birthday Celebrations
Chinese birthday celebrations differ from those of Americans in many ways. First, birthdays are big business in America. They are celebrated heartily every year of a person’s life. The same is not usually true of Chinese birthdays.
While birthdays are recognized, the biggest celebrations are reserved for newborns and the elderly. The Chinese have great respect for their elders and they appreciate what it means to bring a newborn into the family. For those reasons, the very young and the very old are the recipient of the lion’s share of birthday wishes.
While a typical American celebration would include cake, balloons and lots of gifts, Chinese birthday traditions are quite different.
When celebrating the birth of a newborn, the Chinese father may present friends and family with red eggs. This tradition is much like that of handing out cigars with eggs given in place of the cigars. The number of eggs given will depend on the sex of the baby. For a girl, it will be an even number and for a boy, an odd number.
Special gifts are also traditionally given to the wife’s family. These gifts may include wine, money or fruit.
While American babies must wait one year for their first birthday bash, Chinese birthday traditions call for a party when the baby reaches one month of age. This celebration, called Moon-Yut, is where the baby is officially given his name.
Guests will bring money tucked inside of red envelopes. Interestingly, the amount of money given should be an even number.
Some Chinese also celebrate the 100th day of a child’s life, but this celebration is not as important as Moon-Yut.
After the first year, there are no more traditional Chinese birthday celebrations. Still, the birthday child will be acknowledged with a special breakfast including red eggs and special long noodles that are meant to represent long life.
As mentioned earlier, the elderly are also celebrated in Chinese culture. The 60th birthday celebration is almost as important as Moon-Yut. The celebration lasts throughout the day with guest bringing gifts meant to symbolize long life.
Of course, the Chinese birthday traditions discussed here are just that: traditions. In recent years, and much to the chagrin of older Chinese people, the birthday celebrations have taken on an air of anything goes.
This is in large part due to the fact that Chinese families are only allowed to have one child. That child, therefore, is often spoiled and the birthdays and other celebrations are much more overdone than would have been though appropriate in previous generations.
For Chinese people living in America, the birthday celebrations are often a combination of American and Chinese traditions. The traditional Chinese birthday foods that were discussed above, are usually included. To that is added a colorful birthday cake, balloons and toys.
Chinese birthday traditions date back thousands of years. To the families who hold tradition dear, these events mark important milestones and must be celebrated in the same way that they have been for generations.
For those more modern Chinese, the traditions may seem less important, but they still are usually incorporated in some way into a birthday celebration.