This past weekend, I was honored to be able to attend a 12 Day Birthday Celebration. The 12 Day Birthday Celebration was like a baby shower…only after the birth of the baby. It's one of the traditions that some Hong Kongers hold on to, which is kind of a nice thing.
Basically, family and close family friends all go over to the newborn baby's parent's home…bearings gifts such as li sees (red pockets full of money for the baby), diapers, toys, wet wipes, etc. Mostly, it seemed that everyone brought li sees.
Everyone then visits the baby and gives it their gifts. The parents accept it on behalf of the baby. And then everyone sits down to eat. The particular 12 Day Celebration we went to had a bunch of food and snacks prepared by the grandparents.
Two of the really traditional dishes were:
1. Vinegar/Ginger dish with pigs feet and eggs: It's the black dish at the lower right-hand corner of the above photo. This dish was called gee gurk.
FUN FACT: Gee Gurk (in Cantonese) has the same pronunciation as the word for grandson. So, this dish is significantly used as a sort of custom which wishes the new mother more sons to come in the future.
2. Chicken Wine: I am pretty sure that the alcohol was cooked out of this dish, but it is like Chicken Soup for the soul. This dish was called gai jiao.
FUN FACT: Women who give birth, traditionally, are supposed to stay in the home for a full month. They eat certain foods, like Gee Gurk and Gai Jiao to help their bodies recover from pregnancy and giving birth. The month at home is translated into CONFINEMENT (ha!)…but I bet it does feel like confinement because you have to stay at home all day caring for your baby…I'd get serious cabin fever.
The grandparents had a lovely bouquet of flowers. I totally think that they brightened up the festive occasion even more!
The main gift, which I mentioned above, was li see (red pockets).
Li See amounts:
1. I feel like most people give 20 HKD for every li see. It's what I got when I was single and not married. I feel like it's the average amount and the usual amount given…considering that you have to give MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF PEOPLE li sees during the Chinese New Year…that adds up!
2. Some people give 50 HKD, which is more generous.
3. People that are even more generous give 100 HKD.
4. And really generous people give 500 HKD.
These were given to me when I was single…mostly, people who are closest to you (like your parents or in-laws) give the bigger amounts, which is always appreciated!
But that was a little bit on my experience in receiving li sees.
This was my first 12 Day celebration on the birth of a baby during the Chinese New Year. It was totally a festive occasion filled with lots of family and lots of love. I really do learn a lot whilst living out here…
It's nice learning traditional things that I had not been exposed to before!
*A photo of the baby (bitty chubby hand)*