Important Chinese Customs to Know if You will be Having a Family
Red eggs mean birth of a baby. The customs differ in different parts of China. In central China, when a new baby is born, red eggs will be sent to the grandma on the mother's side. From the red eggs, grandma will know the new born baby's gender. If the eggs have a black dot at one end, it means the baby is a boy, the red eggs must be in even number, 6 or 8 eggs, wishing the baby boy will get a wife when he grow up. If the red eggs don't have black dots, the eggs are in odd number, 5 or 7 of them, it means the new baby is a girl, odd number wishes the baby girl will get married in the future.
When the baby is a month old, relatives and friends are invited to have the one-month-old-baby banquet. Gifts or money in red envelopes will be given by the relatives and friends, in return they get red eggs.
Name The Baby
On the third day after the baby's birth, the baby will take a bath, and names will be given to the new born baby. There are two names for the baby, one is a nickname used before going to school, the other is the formal name. The name is very important to the baby, Chinese believe the name will determine the baby's future. Consult the fortune teller and calculate from the birth time of the baby, get the result of which element among the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire, earth) the baby lacks, and add it to the name of the baby.
Baby's 100 Days
100 days after the baby's birth, relatives and friends will send gifts such as clothes, pants, necklace, bracelets for wrists and ankles, tiger shoes, hats for the baby. This is an important day for the baby because 100 days birth celebration represents the wish that the baby will live 100 years, the baby will wear a silver longevity pendant (in Chinese called Longevity Lock) on the neck. The pants will have long fringe on the legs, because the pronunciation of fringe is the same as year in Chinese. And the more fringe the more years.
One Year Old Birthday
On the baby's one year old birthday party, a "Zhua Zhou" (catching one full year of life) ceremony will be held. The baby will take a bath and wear the new clothes and pants given by the grandma on the mother's side. Then the baby will be put on the big table in the family room, which has a book, a calligraphy brush, an abacus, a scale, a pair of scissors, a seal, coins, toys etc on it. What the baby grabs will foretell the future of the baby. If the book or the brush is caught, it means the baby will enjoy reading. If the abacus or the scale or the coin is caught, the baby will be good at doing business. If the seal is caught, the baby will become a politician. If toys are grabbed, the baby will be idle in the future.
Birthday Before 50 Years Old
Kid's birthday in normal family was simple, red egg and longevity noodles are the birthday food. 10-year-old birthday is called " Growing Tail", grandparents from mother's side will give clothes, shoes, hats and rice as gifts. Every 10 year old birthday is a big birthday.
Some area such as Shanxi, Inner Mongolia in China also celebrate the 12-year-old birthday, it's named "opening the lock". A red scarf is tied around the baby's neck after the birth, it's called "cloth lock", and each year another layer of red scarf is added, on the day of 12-year-old birthday, the lock will be removed, symbolizing the kid is no longer a child.
On the 16-year-old birthday, an adult ceremony is held in Fujian province, southern China. The family will go to the temple and offer the God meat and longevity noodles. A banquet is held and gifts are given by friends and relatives.
Nowadays birthday cake is popular at birthday party.
Marriage customs vary in the 56 nationalities of China. The traditional Chinese marriage usually has six steps: match-making, engagement, betrothal presents, meeting the bride, three bows, and drinking wedlock wine.
Several days ahead of the wedding day, a new bed is bought and positioned properly. New pillows and quilts with dragon and phoenix patterns are put on the bed. Lotus seeds, red beans, green beans, dates, longans, and money are spread over the bed. Red candles are placed in the room. A paper cut of character "Double Happiness"is taped on the door of the new room. Wedding couplets are put at the front gate of the groom's home. Nobody is allowed to enter the new room until the new couple enters the room on the wedding night.
On the wedding day morning, the groom rides a horse together with a team of people carrying a sedan chair and presents for the bride's parent. They also play musical instruments along the way. The bride, covered by a red veil on her head, is led by her sister or the bridesmaid out of her bedroom. Her father then leads her to the groom. The groom carries the bride on his back and puts her in the sedan chair. Firecrackers are set off on the way to the groom's home.
The bride is led by a senior person from the groom's side out of the sedan chair when arriving at the groom's home. The bride needs to avoid stepping on the threshold. In the family room, the bride and groom perform the three bows ceremony, first bow to the sky and earth, second bow to the ancestor, third bow to groom's parents and then bow to each other. The bride and groom enter the new bedroom.
A wedding banquet will be held after that. The bride will remain in the new bedroom. Only the groom will toast every guest. All the relatives and friends are invited, and money in red envelopes are given to the bride and groom.
After the banquet, the groom enters the candle lit new bedroom and unveils the bride. People also come along and celebrate in the new bedroom. The new couple has some sweet dumplings or sweet soup made from peanuts, dates, lotus seeds and longans, which signifies the wish that they have a new baby soon. Wedlock wine is drunk. When it's time, the door will be closed, people will leave the room but still stay outside and listen to the conversation between the new couple.
Nowadays a sedan chair is replaced by the sedan car, the bride dresses in a wedding gown, and the groom dresses in a suit. The wedding ceremony in the cities has been westernized. The bride and the groom greet the guests in front of the restaurant where the banquet is held, guests give money in red envelopes. Before taking the toast tour around the banquet tables, the bride will change her dress to a Qipao (a traditional Qing style dress). Toasts are made to wish the new couple a long life, eternal love and happiness, and the early birth of a healthy baby and so on.
Senior's birthday celebration is held every 10 years since the 50th birthday. Some places celebrate the celebration a year ahead, because 9 means "longevity" in Chinese culture. The family of the birthday senior will give out a "Longevity Peach" made from flour or rice to relatives and friends. Invitation cards are sent out. The family room will decorated with a gold " longevity " character on the middle wall, along with couplets of longevity, paintings of cranes and pines etc.
On the night before the birthday, red candles are lit, the birthday senior will burn incense and bow to the sky and earth and ancestor, then sit on the first seat in the family room. Children and grandchildren will all bow to the senior, a gesture called " Bow Longevity".
Firecrackers are set off in the birthday morning, and relatives and friends will come and congratulate. However, the birthday senior won't appear and the first seat in the family room is empty. The guests will bow to the empty seat.
The longevity banquet will have eggs, tea and snacks, longevity noodles, wine and delicious dishes. The birthday senior will eat with several other seniors of similar age in a separate room to bring a lot of luck and longevity. Some rich families also will have an opera show after the banquet.