Naming Ceremonies

I'd bake with butter, cream cheese, and sour cream. Heaven!

Whenever I hit the 7th month of my various pregnancies, I began to bake. Privy to the sex of my babies, I would plan my baking according to the ceremony we'd be holding after the baby was born. If I were having a boy, I would bake non-dairy goods that might be eaten after a meat meal, according to Jewish dietary laws. If I were having a girl, I'd bake with butter, cream cheese, and sour cream. Heaven!

A festive meat meal

Since we are Jewish, we gave our sons a Brit Milah circumcision ceremony and this was the time we named our sons. After the circumcision, we hosted a festive meat meal, hence the non-dairy goodies for dessert. My husband was called up to the dais of our synagogue to name our daughters in the presence of the congregation. Then we'd hold a festive Kiddush—the wine sanctification ceremony accompanying most Jewish occasions—at which I'd serve a variety of home-baked goodies along with fancy fingerfood. My biggest problem was to keep my friends and my children from figuring out whether I was baking milchig (dairy) or parve (neutral), because I didn't want to share my secret knowledge of the sex of our baby.

Water, salt, honey, and wine

It isn't only Jews who include food in naming ceremonies. At the Nigerian Yoruba  naming ceremonies, several types of food are laid out on a ceremonial table and are offered to the baby to taste and touch. Among the traditional foods are: water, salt, palm oil, cola nut, bitter cola, alligator pepper, honey, and wine. The baby is also given a pen, book, and money to touch. Sometimes, the baby is guided to 'walk' a few steps. Some families have other items added to the ceremonial table as symbols of clan deity, such as a knife or sword, to connote Ogun, the god of iron. A poem consisting of many proverbs is then read. Guests are then served traditional foods such as pounded yam and okra soup, rice served with pepper soup, and mashed cassava soup. The Yorubas believe that if a child is not named within 7-9 days after birth, the child will not outlive the same-sexed parent.

Red egg and ginger party

The Chinese have a tradition to hold a red egg and ginger party when the baby turns one month old. The baby is given a name at this time, since it is presumed that having reached the age of one month; the baby will not be a victim of infant mortality. This one month period is also considered a time when the mother will need to rest indoors and recover. During this time, she is fed a nutritious broth of pig's feet, eggs, vinegar and ginger. At the red egg and ginger party, parents hand out red dyed eggs to the guests, who bring gifts of money and jewelry for the infant.

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