Monday, March 26, 2012

Zhua Zhou: Our Family's Chinese Tradition

Whenever a child turns one in my family, it's customary for us to have a zhua zhou.  Translated to English, zhua is "to pick" and zhou is my Maiden name, or a first anniversary.  Upon turning one, a bunch of symbolic items are placed before a child for them to choose from.  Items represent future career paths or interests, with traditional Chinese items that are homonyms (such as green onions for intelligence since it sounds like smart in Mandarin) and other more straightforward items which have stood the test of time (like a stethoscope or calculator).  

I don't remember my own, but I remember vividly my brother Ray's, my cousin Eileen's, and my cousin's child, Abby's - the family gathering and anticipating which item the child would pick... the screaming, the outward gushes of excitement and loud laughter... not so much what they picked though.  In our family, it's a fun little tradition which doesn't mean much despite it "predicting" what future career paths or interests a child might have.  The Chinese elders like to talk about it like it was obvious from the zhua zhou but I guarantee you I did not pick a calculator (at least I hope not)...

The Koreans do a similar thing called the doljabi only it actually entails a fancy party, some rice columns as part of the decoration and an elaborate Korean outfit the one year old will adorn halfway through the party.  I saw some super cute doljabi boards online but noticed there were no zhua zhou ones, so with the help of my new Adobe Photoshop, I made my own!  I won't be blowing it up to a big board like the Korean parties, but I may print an 8x10 and frame it for the family to make bets and give whoever wins a photo of Jordan framed hahahaha.  

And I made a happy birthday sign.  I haven't decided what I intend to do with it as we're not throwing a party... but my dad got so excited about Jordan's zhua zhou, he offered to pay for whatever we do end up doing as part of our Lee Family Reunion in Santa Barbara this upcoming weekend where Jordan will have his zhua zhou one month early (as we'll be in Washington D.C. with Andy's family on his actual one year birthday).

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