Birthday Custom of Xiaogan People

Birthday custom, namely the custom of celebrating a birthday, is commonly known as “Guoshengri” or “Zuosheng”. Since ancient times, the folk people have had the custom of celebrating the first birthday and celebrating the tenth birthday for the children, and celebrating the fiftieth, sixtieth and seventieth birthday for the elderly. This custom has become more prevalent with the improvement of economic conditions.

Celebrating the first birthday. 

On the child’s first birthday, the relatives and friends will take the clothes, snacks and other things to the birthday kid’s home for congratulation. Except for clothes, snacks and fruits, the kid’s grandmother will also present five-color threads. The kid’s parents will gift the snacks and five-color threads to each household in the same village to show celebration; and give a banquet to serve guests. After the banquet, the parents will place a dustpan in the central room, surrounded by snacks, candies, painting and calligraphy, paper and pen, abacus, ruler, weighbeam, bullwhip and other things. Then the kid will be placed in the dustpan to grasp above articles freely. The article he grasps can be used to predict his achievement in the future, called “predicting his will through his likes”. This custom is called as Shi (Try) or Zhuazhou (Grasping Week of Goodies). Moreover, the principal relatives will throw money to the dustpan, with unlimited money amount, to show their love for the kid.

Celebrating the tenth birthday. In the past, only a few rich families will celebrate the tenth birthday for their children, and it is now a common custom. Relatives and friends will prepare generous gifts to celebrate the child’s birthday. The gifts include furniture, household appliances, bicycles, high-end clothes and cash, generally in more than 100 yuan. The birthday kid’s parents will make a great feast to entertain their relatives and friends, and some parents will prepare them with small gifts, or play a film for them to show their gratitude.

Celebrating the birthday of the elderly. 

Children celebrate the fiftieth, sixtieth or seventieth birthday for their parents, which is called as “Zuo Sheng” or “Zhu Shou”. It is a taboo to celebrate the eightieth birthday for the elderly and there is a superstitious belief that it is much better to celebrate the seventieth birthday for the elderly than the eightieth birthday and it is ominous to celebrate the eightieth birthday for the elderly, which just like killing them. Actually, people often celebrate the fiftieth, sixtieth and seventieth birthday for the elderly when they are 49, 59 and 69 years old. There is an old saying that it is ominous to celebrate the birthday of the elderly when they are actually 50, 60 and 70 years old. This custom implicates that they hope the elderly can have a good health and long life, which is called as “Zuo Wang Sheng”. On the birthday of the elderly, the god of longevity picture, congratulatory silk scroll for birthday, couplet for celebrating birthday of the elderly will be hung in the central room, decorated with lanterns and streamers. The elderly is called as “God of Longevity”; in the morning, the “God of Longevity” wears a new dress and hat, and sits in the central room to receive the congratulations from his grandchildren and guests. After congratulatory ceremony, everyone should have a bowl of noodles, called "birthday noodles." Then, a hearty birthday feast will be given. The gifts presented by relatives and friends to the elderly for celebrating birthday are often the high-end clothing, foods or cash.