Birth Traditions

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As you can imagine, my thoughts are very occupied by the subject of pregnancy and birth in these days (because I am pregnant). A lot of things that I heard over the years about this theme are coming back to mind.

For instance, my mother told me that in Chinese culture, there is a tradition of using dousing to predict the gender of the baby, with a pendulum over the mother’s belly. If the pendulum moves in a line, then the baby is a boy. If it moves in a circle, then it’s a girl. They did this with my mother when she was pregnant with me, and the pendulum moved in a line, so they were expecting a boy and they were a bit surprised when I came out! Perhaps the system measures more than just the physical aspect.

There are so many traditions, beliefs and superstitions about this subject. Here are a few interesting ones that I found from world cultures:

pregnancyChildbirth. To mitigate potential birthing pain, in China the mothers drink a strong herbal potion. In Guatemala they drink a liquid made by boiling a purple onion in beer, to speed up the delivery. In Morocco, the midwife performs a massage on the mother’s stomach and vulva with olive oil and offers her an infusion of herbs such as mint, thyme, cinnamon and cloves.

Opening. In Mexico, they close all the doors and windows during childbirth to protect against negative forces. In India, however, they leave the doors open and the mother’s hair free to symbolize the opening of the womb during childbirth. There is also this practice of openness in Morocco.

The placenta. In Hindu translation, the placenta is considered to be almost alive, as if it were the twin brother or sister of the newborn, and they have a complex ceremony to bury the placenta on the land around the home. In Bali, they also have ancient practices to give value to and bury the placenta. In Cambodia, the placenta is wrapped in a banana leaf and kept close to the baby for three days before burying it.

The name. Many cultures have a practice of naming the child 7 days after birth. In Pakistan and other Islamic countries, the child’s hair is shaved at this time of the aqiqah, the baby is weighed on a scale with gold and silver that is then donated to the poor, and there may even be sacrificed animals. In Egypt, the mother and baby receive religious gifts and jewelry. In Japan this time is called the oshichia. Hawaiian names are unique for each child with deep and powerful meanings, and the names are usually complex to avoid the attention of negative forces.

The bath. In Nigeria, with the omugwo tradition, the grandmother (or aunt or friend) gives the baby his or her first bath as a gesture of solidarity toward the mother, to show the support of the women in the community. In Tibet the pang-sai, or purification of the baby, is a ceremony that takes place 3-4 days after birth with gifts of food and clothing to symbolize a life of abundance, and the wisest person present present choose the name for the baby.

After childbirth. In Bali, newborns do not touch the ground for the first 105 days of life. They are always in the arms of their mother or relatives. In Latin American cultures there is the quarantena, a period of 40 days that is spent just taking care of the baby and breastfeeding, without making any other efforts, not even making love.

meerkatNow that I am entering ever more deeply into our Damanhurian birth traditions: rituals, prayers, godparents, characteristics, Temples and Sacred Woods, I see and appreciate the thought and collective efforts of the community that that come together in synergy on so many levels to welcome a soul who is coming home.

Quaglia Cocco
The Befana

 

Tradizioni della nascita

Come potete immaginare i miei pensieri sono tanto occupati dal tema della gravidanza e la nascita in questi giorni (perché sono incinta). Mi tornano in mente tante informazioni in merito che mi sono arrivate negli anni. Continue reading