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Tongcheng people “give birth to babies” 11-09-29

  “There are three unfilial behaviors in one’s life, the most serious one of which is without offspring”, bearing is an important event in Chinese traditional society, whether to the family, to the clan and to the whole society. In the past, giving birth to babies to enlarging family would be a happy thing to everyone, especially when coming across the celebration for marriage and moving to new a house, people often presented “giving birth to five sons and two daughters, and seven children reunion” for congratulation words. Of course, some also deeply felt burden to bear many children, joking “a son and a daughter live harmoniously like living with a flower, many sons and many daughters live inharmoniously like meeting enemies.”

  In Tongcheng County, people call the place “the chicken calls can be heard by three provinces”, the folk custom simultaneously possesses characteristics of Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi Provinces, especially in bearing etiquette, which is very interesting and unique.

  Delivering Babies

  He Jiayou, a 100-year-old woman live in the Tianyue Village of Maishi Town, Tongcheng County, is a "birth attendants" with 40 years ‘experience, the local people call her "Xiniang" or "Yapo".

  He Jiayou said, the medical health level of the past was not so high that the pregnant woman scaled like “standing in front of a piece of paper separating the chief in the hell”,  and upon they  "started" (the pain of giving birth), their families and friends would be extremely nervous.

  If encountering the baby who comes out with “head on” (the baby separates from its mother’s body with feet before and head behind) and cross wide, the birth attendants will pull the baby out with strength and hard force. As a result, the delivery woman would have to suffer from the unbearable pain. As it was often the case, both the mother and the baby would die because of the difficult childbirth.

  Some pregnant women facing difficult labor are superstitiously considered being tangled by the “Life and Death Ghosts”, whose family often asked Taoist priests to “Disperse Ghosts” to help the pregnant woman to give birth. This only suffers the lying-in woman, and in most case led to the lost of both money and the lying-in woman.

  That the baby might experience suffocation when giving birth is called “Stuffy Birth”, mostly the midwife does not know how to rescue, only to command the family of the lying-in women to try to shake the windmill, window and door, and keep shouting with a loud voice, while the baby often dies from the case.

  Pregnant women could only give birth at their own home, and mustn’t in the houses of somebody else even in her parents’. If pregnant women give birth to baby on the half way, they are only allowed to do it in cowsheds, pig sheds and wool-store houses.

  After the completion of the bearing, the family sould throw the “coating” (placenta) into the toilet. And the person who throws the “coating” must go straight ahead and not look back on the way back.

  The baby’s father or grandfather would use a large old bamboo basket in which puts some straws and cotton to make “wave nest” (cradle). The infant is put in the wave nest to sleep, usually without exquisite requirements, but on New Year's Eve, only by adults who armed the baby to fall asleep or sleep on the bed of adults.

  Women “Doing Month Mother” (it is a month after the pregnant women had the baby) also has rules to follow. For example, the Month Mother couldn’t enter or come out of others’ houses. If they have to, they can only enter other houses though the partial doors and back doors. Some even would bed hemp fiber and toilet paper on the threshold, and place a mirror on shoes, saying to prevent evil blood from polluting the goalkeeper.

  Reporting Good News

  Lately, the wife of Ge Yanfei, a youth of Tongcheng gave birth to a girl. Early in the next morning, Ge Yanfei hushed to the home of his father-in-law to report “good news”.

  He took the rice wine, candy, fish, meat, chicken, firecrackers, etc. After setting off firecrackers in front of the house of his father-in-law, he entered the door and treated others to drink sweet wine and eating sweet candy.

  When reporting good news, the reporter divides the share of gifts into many parts: the “Main Presents” to parents or brothers, the “Matchmaking Presents” to the brothers or uncles who do not live with his wife before, the “Delivering Presents” to the matchmaker, and the “Scattering Presents” to others who belong to his wife’ s family. Among those presents, the “Main Presents” are the most important, the “Matchmaking Presents” take the second place, the “Delivering Presents” and the “Scattering Presents” are almost the same. The presents should include fish, meat, and candy .etc. at least not less than four kinds. If the presents need to be increased, the number of kinds of presents must be added in even number.

  The family of the father-in-law can’t inquiry the baby’s gender, but reading male or female of the chicken sent in by the reporter. If a rooster is sent, it shows that a daughter is gave birth to, and if a hen is sent, it shows that a boy is gave birth to.

  When the son-in-law comes to report good news, the family of the father-in-law and all the relatives generally give a present in return with rice, eggs, brown sugar, baby clothes and so on.

  The good news reporter goes not only the home of the father-in-law, but also the home of A’po(the grandmother of the reporter) and old A’po(the grandmother of the reporter’s father) to report the good news.

  It is common to report the good news when the first child is born, and the gifts are rich. But after the second child, the rule is not is so exquisite, even if the good news is to be reported, the presents can be simple.

  The Third Day

  In the third day when the baby is born, the baby would have a shower with warm water into which basil and mugwort leaves are soaked, which is called “Washing on the Third Day”.

  After the bath, it is generally the midwife who holds the baby to the ancestor’s hall to pay their respects to the ancestors, heaven and earth. It is thought from the customs that at this time the baby’s bloody air have not been completely vanished, and the baby is covered by a umbrella when it is held to pay the respects.

  On the same day, feting neighbors is known as the “Doing the Third Day”. But most people only undergo the etiquette of bath and worship the forefathers for the child on this day. And feting guests will be chosen another lucky day on the basis of the situation. The most important guests of “Doing the Third Day” are the family of the baby’s grandmother. On the day, the host needs to send a sedan to pick up the baby’s grandmother, grand-grandmother and so on. The family of the grandmother’s side can go to visit, regardless of men or women, old or young. And the grandpa and grandma present the baby “Meeting Gifts”, besides sending the host rice, brown sugar, chicken, eggs, the baby clothes and other items.

  Producing children and treating guests to diners start from the time when the child was born. Whoever expresses congratulations will all be treated with peanuts, candy, and rice wine that have already been prepared, and whether it is “The Third Day” day or not.

  “The full month day” is the day when relatives and friends come to visit the mother and child. What presents they bring mainly include the chicken, eggs, meat, and brown sugar. That day, the family will hold a banquet to treat the visitors, especially the people from the family of the grandmother's side, who mustn’t be absent without being caught under the special circumstances.

  In addition, when the baby has just been one-year-old, the family will invite relatives and good friends to visit as the “Elemental Birthday” guests. If children are not enough and the times that the family invites guests are not many, the family will also invite relatives and good friends to visit as the “Elemental Birthday” guests when the child are eight year old and twelve year old. ( Writteny by Yan Chengbei)

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