Jan 2015

Ngày Đầy Tháng: June’s One Month Celebration

Ngày Đầy Tháng: June's One Month Celebration

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. Ba 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.

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 to recognize.

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

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

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

My grandparents, along with my mother and great aunt, traveled from San Diego to assist with day thang preparations.

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

As with most Vietnamese celebrations, this one revolved around very specific foods. Both my mother and grandmother were unclear on the significance of each dish, since the tradition had been passed on from generation to generation without much explanation. [This Vietnamese Wikipedia entry provides some insights about the offerings.]

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

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

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

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.

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

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

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

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

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

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

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

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

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

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

June's Ngày Đầy Tháng | First Month Celebration

Happy one month, Baby Girl!

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

It’s all about food and family:

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14 thoughts on “Ngày Đầy Tháng: June’s One Month Celebration

  1. awww! what an awesome tradition! Happy 1 month to baby June! Congratulations to you and Vernon for making it through the toughest month!!!

  2. Happy one month celebration Baby June!! Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us! Makes me feel like I was almost there. Definitely am in my heart! Love love love!

  3. Great write up. I’ve done the 1 month celebrations too but never really looked up what everything meant. So now I know it involves fairies too!.

  4. Look at her precious little face! Love the name too! Congratulations on surviving a whole month as parents!!! 🙂

  5. What a spread! Traditions like this are so lovely and important (even if we’re not entiiirely sure what it’s all about). Happy one month birthday, baby June!

  6. Awesome write up and congratulations to you and your family! As a Vietnamese-American, I’ve attended several 1 month celebrations and never fully understood their origins. Now I know! Thanks!

  7. What are the traditional gifts that are brought by guests? I am attending a Ngay Day Thang and would like to at least look like I know something 🙂

  8. Dwayne – As far as I know, there aren’t any traditional gifts on this day. However, fruit and flowers, or low-key things like that, would be a nice gesture. Have fun!

  9. Thank you for sharing. I want to o 1 month celebration for my 1st grand baby. I was wondering why 3 crabs, eggs & pork.

  10. Thanks for writing a post on Vietnamese baby one month tradition! My parents can’t explain much about it but in our house we still keep this tradition and I plan on passing it down to my kids. I think it’s so important to keep our tradition alive no matter where we live 😀

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