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Nativity or birth is the first time when human being enter the world. It has a lot of culture and tradition to celebrate and to reflect around the world. Therefore, there are a lot of things for us to know about. Birth, Married, and Death are parts of our life cycle. They are events which usually invite people or make people socialize. Having known some culture and tradition around us will give a lot of message leading to character education as I mention in the previous seri of Culture, Tradition, and Character Education.
Last Monday we are very happy to celebrate the 1st month birthday of my nephew and our children’s cousin, Bill Jones Ang. He is the fourth child of my youngest sister and my husband’s youngest brother. Remember how we live in a house with so many people inside. You might read the article here in case you missed it.
It is always the right time for kids to learn about our family cultural value anytime we have a family event. Here are some around the birth cultural and tradition norms and value that we are inherited and will pass to children.
We are a Roman Catholic family from both my husband and my side. We have committed to baptize our children when they are babies. It is also the same thing with most of our niece and nephews. We as parents are responsible to the children’s spiritual life. Therefore, my children have witnessed some baby baptism of their cousins and siblings.
7Th Month Pregnancy Blessing Ceremony for The Eldest Baby
We have a shower ceremony when a pregnant mother reaches 7th month pregnancy. That is a Javanese culture called “siraman”. We adopt it because we find it is great. My mom likes traditional ceremonies combined with our Catholic tradition, so we do inculturation. The message of this ceremony is to wish blessings from Godand to be grateful of the pregnancy. Showering symbolizes opening the birth way. It is hoped that moms could deliver the baby well. Some rituals here are:
- Group religious worship with relatives or cells (small church groups)
- Shower ceremony is when some elder ladies shower the pregnant mother with water scattered with flower. It symbolizes cleaning mom to be able to deliver smoothly.
- Breaking the coconut to predict whether it is going a baby boy or baby girl. Well, traditionally there was not any USG machine.
- Choosing the right clothes symbolizing the future appearance of the future baby. It doesn’t really make sense, but we just love it as a traditional ceremony.
When kids ask what happens in the ceremony, we explain that the ceremony is a cultural and traditional symbols incorporated with religious messages that we can find in our society to ask blessings from God to show being grateful as human beings.
Umbilical Cord and Placenta
In Javanese and Chinese culture, people consider that umbilical cord and placenta of new born babies are sacred as they have accompanied and fed the baby during the pregnancy. Once they are delivered soon after the baby is born, the nurse will wash the placenta and the rest of the umbilical cord and put it in a clay pot. Sometimes the father or any relative will wash it.
As soon as they are considered clean, the father or relatives will put some cultural attributes such as mini pencil, tiny notebook, flower and things that show the family wish toward the baby when he or she grows up in the future. Next the clay pot containing the umbilical cords, placenta, and attributes are drowned in the see to be buried with nature.
The kids asked a lot about this tradition when one by one cousins were born. It is usually done by a father or a grandmother.
Important Ages to Celebrate
We have certain ages to celebrate in a special way.
1st month is the first celebration of birthday in our culture. Javanese will have 36 days, but Chinese has 1 month. In 1st Month Celebration, Family will spread some love by sending some souvenir or food as a symbol of being grateful and wishful for the new born baby to relatives and people who send presents to the baby. For baby boy, family will give chicken to people. My children love eating the food and deliver them out.
The babies’ hair head is usually shaved as the symbol of cleanness to start real living in the world. I have never shaved my baby by myself. Either my sister, my mother, or the nanny did it for them. It is too scary for me.
1st year is as important as the first month birthday. I think most cultures have similar thought. This is the first time our baby “go public” as there is usually bigger birthday party as a child.
2nd, 3rd, and 4th years are also time for family feasts.
5th Year is the peak for childhood birthday party as we decide not to have birthday celebration after that. There are still family dinner, birthday present, and tumpeng (coned yellow rice with some Javanese menu around as a symbol of gratitude and wish). However, there won’t be any birthday cake and invitation anymore. We just go to morning mass on any family member’s birthday. We explain kids about this tradition so that they understand why and how.
In the 17th years old for girls and 21st year old for boys, there are usually party or special celebration for birthday. This is the time when someone turns into an adult. People usually has parties with friends. I think this culture comes from western world or from European.
The main message of birthday celebration is being grateful of how the life have been and ask for blessing for the future life. We always emphasize the importance of being grateful in birthday occasions rather than the feast and presents.
Well, there are a lot of character education that children can learn from around the birth of human. The most prominent one is being grateful and wishful. It cannot be denied that our life will be happier when we are grateful and wishful. My blogging buddy, Bonnie from Ladyblogger has a wonderful posting that show a presentation from TED Talk which says that being happy and healthy are things that kids need to learn about. You might visit this here. Teaching kids being grateful and wishful will lead them to be happier.
What are some cultural and traditional events around birth in your family that are special and involve kids?