I post this for my best and dearest friend, Elisa Pozza. Despite this practice is a particular ritual in Vietnam and seems strange to a such European like Elisa, she believes and wants to make it with a wish to bring all the best to son. She is great and adored mother! …
Well, in Vietnam, we call the 1st birthday of baby "THÔI NÔI". "Thôi" means a stop or leaving. "Nôi" means baby cradle. In the literal sense, it's a time for "Leaving Cradle" and walk! In figurative sense, this opens a new page in child life when the baby passed her 1st hard year dramatically and be ready to step into a new period – Toddler.
People said first year is the most difficult time for baby and we do everything to share with our baby his "victory". That's the time everybody come and cluster around the baby.
When is the time for Thôi Nôi
Although it's not so popular now but many people record the their baby birthday by Lunar Calendar, called "Âm Lịch". Thôi nôi will be counted on Lunar date, too. The ceremonial should be made around noon, as said by old people, but it's flexible these days since many families joyfully open party on that day.
What are the ceremonial offerings ?
There is official and age-old worship with various offerings and prayers. We prefer a simple version as it is easy to prepare but still keep the nature and basic procedure. However, certain variations may happen among regions and even individual families.
Here is MY OWN simple version.
– Fresh flower : 1 pot
– Fresh fruti : 1 big dish of 5 kinds of fruit
– Incenses : 3 sticks
– Drinking cup : 12 cups of water(3 cups are acceptable)
– Candle : 2 candles.
– "Chè trôi nước" : 12 small bowls.
– Steamed glutinous rice : 12 small bowls.
– Birthday cake : This is my own adding (not in official worship offerings)
– The tray of pick-up things will be put on or next to the offerings table.
For non-vegetarian : 12 eggs, 1 steamed chicken and 12 pieces of roast pork can be added. White rice wine should accompany then.
I need to give a brief description on "Chè trôi nước" though I don't think it's easy to cook there. (Frankly, I know how to cook but I never cook it)"Chè trôi nước" is used as ceremonial offerings for baby boy (For baby girl, we use sweet steamed glutinous rice plus white bean. The syrup is made by suger+water. The balls are made by "mochi" – a powder made from glutinous rice – with grind green peas inside. Dust the sesame on it. Sometimes you can see the coconut extract on it.
How to cook "Chè trôi nước" ? May be next post !
Chè trôi nước
What do you pray ?
We often pray to "God-mothers" – called "Bà Mụ" – who support the baby during his childhood. In our belief, there are 12 God-mothers and that's why we have 12 pieces for each ceremonial offerings.
There is official prayers, really. But it's remembered by the old who help the young in the worship.
Here is the offical prayer in Vietnamese
VĂN KHẤN CÚNG MỤ
NAM-MÔ A-DI-ĐÀ PHẬT ! ( 3 lần )
Kính lạy : ĐỆ NHẤT THIÊN TỶ ĐẠI TIÊN CHỦ
ĐỆ NHỊ THIÊN ĐẾ ĐẠI TIÊN CHỦ
ĐỆ TAM TIÊN MỤ ĐẠI TIÊN CHỦ
THẬP NHỊ BỘ TIÊN NƯƠNG
TAM THẬP LỤC CUNG CHƯ VỊ TIÊN NƯƠNG
Hôm nay là ngày……tháng……năm…….
Vợ chồng con là…….
Sinh được con (trai , gái) đặt tên là……
Nay nhân ngày đầy cữ ( hoặc đầy tháng , đầy năm ) thành tâm sửa biện hương hoa lễ vật và các thứ cúng dâng bày lên trước án, trước bản tọa chư vị Tôn Thần kính cẩn tâu trình :
Nhờ ơn Thập phương Chư PHẬT , Chư vị Thánh Hiền , Chủ Tiên Bà , các Đấng Thần Linh , Thổ Công Địa Mạch , Thổ Địa Chính Thần , Tiên Tổ nội ngoại cho con sinh ra cháu……
được mẹ tròn con vuông.
Cúi xin : Chư Tiên Bà , Chư vị Tôn Thần giáng lâm trước án , chứng giám lòng thành thụ hưởng lễ vật , phù hộ độ trì , vuốt ve che chở cho cháu được ăn ngon , ngủ kỹ , hay ăn chóng lớn , vô bệnh , vô tật , vô tai , vô ương , vô hạn , vô ách , phù hộ cho cháu bé được thân mệnh bình yên , cường tráng , kiếp kiếp được hưởng vinh hoa phú quý. Gia đình con được phúc thọ an khang , nhân lành nẩy nở , nghiệp dữ tiêu trừ , 4 mùa không hạn ách nghĩ lo.
Con xin thành tâm đỉnh lễ.
Basically, it can be spoke that : We are parent of (baby name). Today is (baby name) birthday, we honestly prepare the ceremonial offerings and pray for baby to be protected, healthy, in peace and properity and for our family be in good health, good life, no accidents around the years.
What is the pick-up tray"
The tray display some popular things representative for future career of baby. A part of the relief, what baby pick-up may drive baby to the future jobs. There seems no rule for what to put on tray, but basic things can be :
1) Scissors –> Tailor
2) Pincers –> Engineer
3) Notebook/Pen –> Officer
4) Mirror/lipstick –> Model/movie stars (!!)
Look at what I prepared :
We know that all of them are for spirit purpose. However, what we can, we will do for our kids. Just want to show our forever love.