Thôi Nôi – Vietnamese 1st Birthday Traditions

9 Jun

Twelve months is upon us and we’re already in full party-planning swing. What they say is true, time really does pass in the blink of an eye. Our little lady has been pure joy and adventure from day one, and we’re so excited for every new milestone and experience.

Father holding infant daughter blowing out birthday cake

Celebrating her Ba’s birthday

We did her one-month name day ceremony, and will be placing out objects for her to select her future profession at the one year birthday bash. For those who haven’t been to an Asian one-year birthday party, essentially you place objects in front of the tot and whatever little Johnny or Jane picks is her future profession. I’ve been to Vietnamese and Korean versions of this and they, essentially, are the same. Of course there is some bias to the parents in what objects are offered.

The Vietnamese tradition is called Thôi Nôi (or, leaving cradle – excuse me while I grab the tissues).

In doing some reading, there are several accounts I have found for the Vietnamese tradition.

  1. Place several objects on the ground in front of them and whatever they grab is it!
  2. Place 12 objects in a tray and allow the tot to explore them. Whatever they end up with (for the most amount of time, I guess), is their future.

Twelve is an auspicious number for this ceremony, as I read, which also is a nice parallel to the number of months they have been on earth (my own interpretation).  The ceremonial altar table is similar to that from the one-month ceremony, but with twelve offerings (preferred) for some items. From one account:

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.

Plans are still coming together, but I’m most excited to see what our little gem selects for her future!

What objects did you place before your child?

3 Responses to “Thôi Nôi – Vietnamese 1st Birthday Traditions”

  1. Julie June 23, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

    Thank you for sharing! I have posted this link on a Vietnamese Mommies FB group page. So excited to learn about this tradition. Oftentimes the only way you learn and carry on Vietnamese traditions when living in the USA is if an elder gives oral account of the tradition. Much is lost if you don’t have the good fortune of having someone versed and knowledgeable enough to teach you. Very appreciative of your post.

    • amandare July 2, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

      Thank you so much for the note, and I’m thrilled to help others learn as I have! Would love to hear your stories, as well!

  2. Julie February 24, 2018 at 5:07 pm #

    My daughters 1st birthday is in a few weeks! What items did you have out for her to grab? What were the meanings to each item?

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