Vietnamese First Birthday Tradition (Thoi Noi)

Meaning of Vietnamese First Birthday Tradition

Vietnamese First birthday Tradition is one of the most important days in Vietnamese people’s life. Since the first birthday, the child is considered to be a real member of the family. Celebrating the first birthday for children or Thoi Noi – a tradition that has existed for a long time. The family would like to say a big thanks to gods, especially Mu Ba (God Mother) and ancestors for supporting the child who has been healthy, intelligent and lucky.  It’s a chance for relatives and family’s friends to come and wish all the best to the child. Thoi Noi also represents for family’s belief in a bright future.

What to prepare for Vietnamese First Birthday?

Vietnamese families usually prepare for first birthday anniversaries one or a few months before. They prepare offerings, foods, clothes, decorations, etc. They invite family members and guests (friends, neighbors, colleagues). Guest lists consist of several dozens to hundreds of invitees. In the past, there is no telephone and printer, parents come to invitee’s houses and politely ask them to attend the anniversary. In recent, parents can come to guests’ houses with invitation cards. In case the guests’ houses are too far, parents can invite them via phone.
ho chi minh street food tour by motorbike with local students

What to do on Vietnamese First Birthday?


Offerings for Gods include Steamed sticky, Sweet soup (Vietnamese glutinous rice dumplings in caramel ginger syrup, Sweet soup with glutinous rice and black-eyed peas), Boiled whole duck, Roasted whole pig with a sharp knife on the pig’s back, congee, herbs, incense sticks, kerosene oil lamp, wine, tea, tray of fruits, flowers. Offerings could be different in different regions. They are arranged on trays which are put in the garden, on tables and the ancestral altar in the house.

Steamed sticky rice - Vietnamese First Birthday Tradition (Thoi Noi)

Steamed sticky rice with Gac which has red/orange color is usually cooked for Thoi Noi

Sweet soup with glutinous rice and black-eyed peas - Vietnamese First Birthday Tradition (Thoi Noi)

Sweet soup with glutinous rice and black-eyed peas

Vietnamese glutinous rice dumplings in caramel ginger syrup - Vietnamese First Birthday Tradition (Thoi Noi)

Vietnamese glutinous rice dumplings in caramel ginger syrup

Vietnamese First Birthday Tradition (Thoi Noi)

Everything is placed on the table on Vietnamese First Birthday Tradition

Pray for good luck and bright future

The oldest person of family burns incense sticks and pray for best things for child.

Choose favorite things

After the praying, relatives and family’s friends give their presents to the child. They could gift red envelopes containing lucky money, new clothes, toys… After that, the child can choose his favorite from a tray consisting mirror, comb, pen, book, steamed sticky rice, money, scissors, clay… The first thing he chooses helps to predict his future job. For example, if he chooses scissors, he could be a barber in future. Below is the job corresponding to the thing the child pick up:

  • If the child gets Steamed sticky rice, he likes cooking and can be a chef when he grows up.
  • If the child chooses the clay, he will love planting and farming, he can be a farmer or an agriculture engineer in future.
  • If the child gets the pen or the book, he will love reading book and have a bright future.
  • If the child chooses the pair of scissors, he can be a doctor or a barber.
  • If the child chooses the mirror, he can be an artist or make up professional.
  • If the child chooses money, he can be a businessman and rich man.

In the past, Vietnamese families believe in the predictions. Most of them prefer pens, books, scissors and money. In recent, it is a fun game and Vietnamese people are happy with all choices.

Gift the child

Guests gift money in envelopes as lucky money, jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, infant formulas, baby clothes, or other baby products.

Jewelry as gift for Vietnamese first birthday anniverasry

Family members usually gift the child jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets. They prefer gold jewelry to silver and white gold. They gift a Buddha pendant which symbolizes peace to a child and wish him safe and sound.

Toys as gift for first birthday anniversary in Vietnam

Toys are great gifts for Vietnam first birthday anniversary. It is true that all children love toys and their parents are pleased to receive toys from guests.

Clothes as gift for first birthday anniversary in Vietnam

You can buy clothes, hats, even socks for children on their first birthday party in Vietnam. If you do not know the exact clothing size of the child, you can buy big sizes to make sure that the clothes or accessories fit the child on the first birthday or a few months later.

Gift for first birthday anniversary in Vietnam

Infant formula is a popular gift for Vietnamese firt birthday anniversaries although it is recommended not to use formula for children after their first birthday.

You can choose lotions, shampoos, powders, shower creams to gift the kid. It is better to know which brands suit the child.

Baskets of lotions, shampoos, powders, shower creams, wrapped in plastic sheets and decorated with ribbons are great gifts on the day.

ho chi minh street food tour by motorbike with local students

Enjoy the feast

At last, foods are served to all guests. Everybody will eat, drink and talk to each other happily. Nowadays, besides offerings and other Vietnamese traditional foods, Vietnamese people also buy and enjoy happy birthday cakes like Western people.

Gift the guests

Parents can gift the guests Steamed sticky rice and Dumplings in ginger syrup as a big thanks for their attendance.

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One Response

  1. Matt Darbro September 3, 2020

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