Red Egg Ceremonies are a festive way to celebrate and welcome a new baby, as we mentioned before. What’s better than showing off your new little one with some food and fun? Plus it allows your friends and family to give your baby a lot of extra good fortune and after a month of sleeplessness and general life adjustment, you probably wouldn’t mind a little bit of added luck on your side.
Traditions for Before the Red Egg Celebration
Depending how traditional you want to be, there are a few things you could take care of prior to your red egg ceremony.
- Offering to ancestors. Some families will make an offering to gods and ancestors asking for protection of the growing family, through burning incense and making food offerings at the family altar the morning of the red egg ceremony.
- “Shedding” birth hair. One traditional practice for the red egg ceremony is to shave the baby’s head to promote independence and potentially some luscious future locks. Current modern practice, however, is to trim a lock of hair as a keepsake or to skip this step altogether. Because let’s be real - a one month old baby barely has any hair.
- Getting dolled up. Babies are typically dressed in red and gold while presenting the baby to family or to the family altar.
- Choosing a (Chinese) name. If a baby name hasn’t been chosen yet, tradition dictates that it becomes a family affair. Grandparents will get involved and some families even employ a fortune teller, to ensure that a lucky and fortunate name is selected. There’s a strong view in Chinese culture, similar to western culture, that the name chosen can have a strong effect on one’s life.
The Red Egg Celebration
Red egg parties run the gamut from intimate get-togethers thrown at home with whatever’s easy to serve, to elaborate celebrations that are fully catered in a banquet hall featuring typical Chinese foods. The good news: either way you choose to host is entirely up to you!
A few things to consider including for your celebration:
- Who to invite. It’s a great idea to invite family or even nearby extended family, to “present” your baby and the baby’s new Chinese name. Also consider inviting dear friends and their families to join in your celebration. Maybe they’ll bring some delicious food for the tired parents!
- Eggs. It ain’t a red egg ceremony without… RED EGGS. Pick up and boil some eggs to display and also to eat. Or if you’re like us, show off your Instant Pot egg skills and cook up a bunch, since pressure cooking hard boiling eggs is the only thing you’ve figured out in your IP. Eggs can be dyed using food coloring or with natural coloring from beets or red onions.
- Other foods to serve. Some Chinese families serve round, red glutinous rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste at Red Egg ceremonies. These rice cakes, called tortoise cakes (or ang ku kueh in hokkien) can be both round or tortoise shell shaped. The red tortoise cakes represent good blessings and wishes of longevity and tenacity for the baby. But really, it’s your party. Make some egg-shaped, red frosted cookies. Have some cupcakes. Serve what your friends and family want to eat or more importantly, what you want to eat.
- Decor. There’s no hard and fast rule on how to decorate or treat your guests at a red egg celebration. Displaying the red eggs and showcasing your baby’s Chinese name written out are two nice touches, as a nod to tradition.
Have you hosted a red egg ceremony before? Tell us about it!Tortoise cake image: Wikicommons, photography by Midori