Namings and Baby Welcoming Ceremonies

Pages 57-58

Good Luck for the Child

"Mondays child is fair of face;
Tuesday's child is full of grace;
Wednesday's child is full of woe;
Thursday's child has far to go;
Friday's child is loving and giving.
Saturday's child works hard for a living.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is fair and wise, good and gay."

Ceremonies wishing good look for a child exist in many forms. Some are performed by the child's parents and closest family; some are expressions of thanks and good wishes by the whole community. In other cases, the children themselves perform ceremonies against bad luck.

In America and Britain, new parents will often smoke a cigar in celebration of the birth of a new child. In Russia they plant a tree. The child's tree is taken very good care of, as it is believed that the tree and child are connected. The tree grows with the child and if it flourishes so will the child, but if it dwindles so too will the child. The belief in a connection between the newborn and a tree is common in Germany, France and England as well as Russia. In Cornish popular superstition it is unlucky for parents to wash the baby's head for the first twelve months and washing a baby's hands before the first birthday will take away future riches.

The Ngente, a Lushae tribe in Assam celebrates new birth together as a whole society. A three-day feast is held every autumn in honour of all the children born that year. The feast brings good luck to all newborn babies. For the first two days of the feast all the adults sit together, eat and drink. On the third day the men, disguised as women, go from house to house calling on the new mothers of the year. The new mothers give them drinks and presents in return for which they dance.

In the Punjab, the child keeps sections of their own hair, nails and umbilical chord to bring good luck into their early life. By keeping these pieces and preventing them from falling into the hands of some other person, the child will be able to keep their own self whole and healthy.

A ritual burying of the placenta is common in many places - frequently a tree may be planted on top of it.

When a baby was born in England it was traditional for the female friends of the family to visit the new mother and child during the first couple of weeks. They would all sit around, coo-ing at the new baby and nattering with its mother. This tradition was known as God-sip and the word mutated over the centuries into… gossip.

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