Chinese traditions: Manyue or Full Moon celebration

full moon celebration

满月 (mǎnyuè), or Full Moon, is when a baby turns 30 days old. In China, it’s tradition to cut a baby’s hair for the Full Moon celebration.

Before our son turns 30 days, my mother-in-law sends my husband a message: “Once you’ve cut the hair, put it into a cloth. Put the cloth with the hair underneath the baby’s pillow. This way, he won’t be as easily startled anymore*.”

*What my mother-in-law is referring to is the Moro reflex. The Moro reflex describes the sudden spreading out and unspreading of arms that is often followed by crying, a reflex most babies have until they are 4 or 5 months old. It is believed to be triggered by a sudden feeling of falling.

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About

Hi, I'm Ruth, welcome to China Elevator Stories! I have been living in Kunming and Shenzhen in the past and am now staying in Northeast China with my Chinese husband and our baby and toddler son. Join us on our journey bridging worlds!

19 comments

  1. I have only heard about the thirty day celebration thus far, never really seen in from our friends as it seems nowadays most attention is on zuo yuezi.
    Shaving the hairs? Well our little one was bald a couple of weeks after his birth so I guess there would have been nothing to put under a future pillow 🙂

    • In some areas it’s also common to cut the eyebrows in addition to the hair, so if he had eyebrows a month after his birth, shaving them might have worked as well! If not, I’m really not sure which other option there would have been.

      • No, not even eyebrows 🙂

        Anyways there would have been no way for us to shave or cut off the hairs as the doctors striclty forbid us in the “pre-birth lessons” that in the first 3-6 months the hairs shouldnt be cut with a machine due to the vibrations which might lead in rare cases to some damage.
        As the machine would have been out of option the only chance would be to use a blade and well, that is just too risky with a quickly moving little baby 🙂

  2. That’s really interesting. Do you know why the Chinese cut and continue to cut off their children’s hair? My husband’s family want us to cut KL’s hair but my American family and myself plead for them not to, as she’ll probably lose her beautiful curls and we otherwise don’t see a point to doing it.

    I haven’t heard of this 30 day tradition. Will you shave your kid’s hair again and again?

    • I’m not sure why they traditionally cut children’s hair. People say it’s so the hair will grow stronger, but that can’t be the real reason because cutting a baby’s hair will not make it stronger. Since Chinese usually have black hair and the color doesn’t change (at least not that much), it might not be so obvious, but in Austria some babies’ hair changes from black to blonde (or other colors) at some point in time, meaning that baby loses the hair it had at birth while growing new hair. This was also the case with our son when he was a few months old.

      My husband likes cutting our son’s hair and giving him a new hairstyle and I’m fine with that. He doesn’t cut his hair all of the time and as far as I understand it doesn’t need to be completely shaved after the full moon celebration. Cutting it before Chinese Spring Festival also seems to be pretty common, so we’ll cut it soon.

      Would some kind of compromise work in your daughter’s case – e.g. only trimming the ends?

  3. robert

    I heard of the tradition – i.e. there’s something supposed to happen after 30 days, but I didn’t know it was exactly that.

    There seems to be some obsession with “special hair cutting days” here in China because there’s other days and dates where you should really cut your hair if you want to get some luck.

      • robert

        I just came back to work after some Chinese holidays to see that most of the guys in my team cut their hair. Somebody said something along the lines of luck and tradition. But I can’t remember what sort of holiday it was. Might also just be a local Shanghai thing… I didn’t really enquire into it (but I think I should have)

  4. I wasn’t willing to let my son’s hair get shaved and I told my husband I rather not do it until he is a few years old. It is strange to me.

    We had a large dinner for manyue, inviting everyone who gave us gifts (money) after the baby was born. We did professional photos for 百天.

  5. I had not heard of this before, but I have been looking at the profiles of many children in China who are available for adoption (since my husband and I are in the process) and I noticed that many of the children have their heads shaved in their pictures. I have a friend who adopted a baby right after Spring Festival this year, and her new daughter’s head is shaved. I also got a newsletter from an orphanage featuring a little girl with a shaved head and the caption said something like “just imagine how beautiful this little girl is after her New Year haircut grows out.” So this practice, even for girls, is still very prevalent.

  6. Chinese people have many traditions. Apart from shaving head at the 30th day of birth, many would be celebrating the fullmoon with plenty of red color food and decorations. Red means luck for the Chinese.

    Somehow the celebrations would not seem complete without red eggs and Angkoo. Red eggs symbolizes hope with fertility and Angkoo is for long life. The Chinese in Malaysia adapt Nyonya flavor in the celebration as well. We cook Curry Chicken and Nasi Kunyit. Both cuisine requires skillful cooking method and spices to taste good. If done right, the aroma of the curry will reach 5 to 10 doors away.

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