Why do they do that?

Why do they do that?

There are many ways to raise a child, with different cultures having different rites of passage - some of which may be amusing or even shocking.

In Singapore, Chinese families have a high regard for the infant's first month celebration.

The celebration, which is also known as man yue or "full moon", indicate the beginning of a child's life, among other things, according to the National Library Board's e-resource site, Singapore Infopedia.

In some families, babies have to wear new clothing, preferably in red to signify good fortune, as well as don gold jewellery.

Traditionally, the practice of shaving the baby's head is also done as part of the celebrations. According to Sassy Mama, an information and resource-sharing site for mums in Singapore, the shaving of the head is "a sign of preparing the baby for life in the community with good health, happiness and success".

In African cultures however, it is common for male infants to be circumcised as a mark of cultural identity.

Over in Japan, the ceremony of Issho Mochi involves wrapping mochi (glutinous rice cake) up in a furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth) and then tying them onto the back of a child turning one year old.

Issho Mochi, which sounds like 'a whole lifetime' in Japanese,­ signifies a prayer for good health and prosperity and is used to wish the child a lifetime of good luck and of never being hungry.

stephluo@sph.com.sg


Wonder what parents from other cultures do for their infants? Young Parents writer Priyanka Elhence asks parents from 8 nationalities about their cultural practices.

FRANCE

"The French believe that gnawing on the hard tip of a baguette brings comfort to a teething child. Some mothers will even bake their own bread sticks specifically for teething purposes. It's not dangerous, because the crusty, salted bread soon becomes soggy with Baby's drool."

Melissa Diagana, 54, freelance writer with three kids ages seven to 10

CANADA

"Canadians believe that outdoor napping and exposing children to fresh air (whether in summer or the depths of winter) makes their immune system stronger and so they will be less likely to catch coughs and colds. You can gradually start going outdoors when the baby is two weeks old.

"Many parents also believe that children sleep better and for longer in the open and, as proven in medical studies continually, preschoolers who spend many hours outdoors are healthier than those who spend most of their time indoors."

Kathryn Eidsvik, 37, stay­-at-­home mum with two kids ages five and six

NORTH INDIA

"Shaving a baby's head comes from the belief that the hair a baby is born with carries the undesired traits of a past life. The first hairs on a baby's body are thus considered impure and must be shaved off in order to purify her soul and ensure her well-being. "This Mundan ceremony is done throughout India (as a Hindu ritual that is also practised by Singaporean Indians) but, in North India, it is done when the child is between one and three years of age and must take place in an odd year and an odd month.

"The baby's hair is shaved by a specialist barber in a nearby temple and the hair cannot be thrown away. Every strand is carefully collected to be offered to God. After the ceremony, a paste of turmeric and sandalwood is applied on the child's head as a part of the purifying act, and to prevent irritation or infection."

Niketa Pandya, 34, teacher with a three-­year-­old

GERMANY

"Table manners are important to Germans. Children must remain seated at the table until each person has finished eating and only then will they be excused from the table. Elbows on the table, using the left hand to hold the dish, chewing with an open mouth, or talking while chewing are also not appreciated."

Mike Mohns, 43, consultant manager with two kids aged four and seven

PAKISTAN

"The older generation believes that boys are the future breadwinners and heads of families and must be well taken care of. They are revered and are not supposed to be 'burdened' while growing up ­ they shouldn't carry heavy things such as school bags or do household chores.

"Sometimes, you see even teenagers being fed by their mothers. But times are changing, and young couples and families have started believing in raising independent kids."

Sameen Khan, 31, executive director of an IT firm and blogger with two kids aged three and five

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