Ngay day thang: baby's one month celebration

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While pregnant with Baby June, I spent many afternoons listening to my grandmother recall various myths and traditions regarding motherhood and babies within Vietnamese culture. Cha Ngoai has personally experienced nine pregnancies in her lifetime, so she knows a thing or two about the subject. While some Vietnamese postpartum rituals are rarely practiced in the U.S., others remain quite common.

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For me, the custom of staying indoors and “roasting” by a fire (nam lua) for an entire month after giving birth seemed impractical (and a bit nuts), but baby’s one month anniversary (ngay day thang) seemed an important milestone lớn recognize.

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From what I gather from my family (and from scouring the Internet), the purpose of ngay day thang is khổng lồ prepare a feast for the mười nhì bà mụ (twelve midwives). According to Vietnamese mythology và folk religion, these twelve “fairies” teach babies various prosperous traits & skills such as sucking và smiling.

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My grandparents, along with my mother & great aunt, traveled from San Diego khổng lồ assist with day thang preparations.

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As with most Vietnamese celebrations, this one revolved around very specific foods. Both my mother và grandmother were unclear on the significance of each dish, since the tradition had been passed on from generation khổng lồ generation without much explanation.

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A chicken, with its head và feet still attached, was the centerpiece of the spread.

Xem thêm: Fried Frog With Bamboo Shoots, Delicious Leaves Of Giang Leaves

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My grandma boiled the bird, along with its giblets, before setting it on the “altar” just so. Following the ceremony, she made chao (porridge) using the stock and two different goi (salads) from the chicken.

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Another important component of the feast were three crabs, three pieces of pork belly, và three hard boiled eggs.

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Also on hand were fifteen plates of xoi vo (mung bean sticky rice) và fifteen bowls of che dau van (Hue sweet bean dessert). I ordered these two dishes from Kim Hoa Hue restaurant in El Monte.

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A birds eye view of the entire feast. I hope that the mười nhị bà mụ appreciated our collective efforts!

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Before digging into the bounty, Ong Ngoai burned incense and said a prayer for Baby June.

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Baby June showed her respects by bowing at the altar along with me.

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Happy one month, Baby Girl!

Bonus read from Hyphen Magazine: “Motherhood Rooted: Asian & Pacific Islander moms in the US embrace ancient post-birth traditions