first birthday rituals

Kai’s first birthday will be approaching in a few months, and I’m already planning the party. I may pass on the Spiderman theme and opt for a birthday party full of cultural rituals.

A must-have ritual is thoi noi * which is from my own Vietnamese culture. While all the guests gather around, baby chooses from a variety of objects on a tray. The object Kai selects may predict his future passions or career.

Some common symbols used:

  • paint brushes for an artist
  • pen and paper for a writer
  • an instrument for a musician
  • something medical (e.g., medicine, bandage, thermometer) for a doctor or nurse
  • a computer mouse for a techie
  • piggy bank for banker
  • rice for a chef

Another ritual I admire is shaving baby’s head. The “first haircut” is a rite of passage for many cultures including India, Tibet, and Korea. Shaving off the old hair cleanses the head of bad energy and allows for new and fuller hair to grow in.

The last ritual which encourages guest participation is the wish tree. This is one of my favorite multicultural traditions because the wishes are timeless. Guests will write/draw a wish for Kai and hang them on a branch. I can already imagine reading Kai wishes at bedtime for several days following his birthday. There isn’t a better birthday gift than that.

If you have other cultural traditions to share with us, please do!


*thoi noi-translates to baby’s coming of age, departing from the basinette

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12 years ago

Hi there! I was inspired by your Wish Tree idea and used at my godson’s party! Take a look:

12 years ago

hmm….interesting tradition. I like to dream of what my son might become but I don’t think I’ll shave his head. The thought of taking some clippers to his squirmy head does not sound pleasant. Thanks for the post!

joanna dyckhoff
joanna dyckhoff
12 years ago

I love Tea clothing and this post! I am planning my godson’s 1st birthday (modern jungle theme ala Ikea) and will definitely do Thoi Noi and the Wish Tree! Thanks for the insight!!!!