Can a One Year Old Decide Their Own Career?

Can a One Year Old Decide Their Own Career?

If you thought declaring your major as a college freshman(大学新生,dà xué xīn shēng) was a lot of pressure, try deciding your career path at just one year old! The adorable ceremony that I’m referring to is called Zhuazhou (抓周,zhuā zhōu), a tradition that’s been taking place in China since the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) and was mainly a tradition celebrated among noble families(贵族,guì zú).

The Zhuazhou ceremony(仪式,yí shì) is where various objects, each representing a different career path(职业道路,zhí yè dào lù), are placed around either a large table or on the bed. Then like a turtle race, the crawling baby is set loose and close family and friends watch as the birthday boy or girl crawls(爬行,pá xíng) toward all the various objects around him/her. Then based on what the baby selects(选择,xuǎn zé) first, it was believed that object was an indication(暗示,àn shì) of their future career path.

Back in the ancient days, items like Chinese calligraphy brushes(毛笔,máo bǐ), ink, paper, sword, abacus, coins, jewelry, food, and toys were placed around the babies. For baby girls, they’d include items like spoons, scissors, and thread which represented the girl would become a good housewife(家庭主妇,jiā tíng zhǔ fù) in the future. It was also believed that in the olden days parents would sometimes put celery and shallots in the mix as well because these vegetables have Chinese names with positive homonyms. If the baby picks the celery (芹 qín) it meant that he or she will be hardworking(勤奋的,qín fèn de) and if they pick the shallots (葱 cōng) it meant that he or she will be smart(聪明的,cōng míng de).

Today, the tradition(传统,chuán tǒng) of Zhuazhou is still practiced around China, but it’s definitely not taken seriously anymore. This is more for entertainment(娱乐,yú lè) at a first birthday(生日,shēng rì), because, well, how else will adults stay entertained at a one year old’s birthday?

Nowadays, instead of items like abacus(算盘,suàn pán) and gender specific items for girls, parents are replacing traditional Zhuazhou items with things like a syringe (representing a future as a doctor), calculator (entrepreneur,企业家), balls (athlete,运动员), pens (artist,艺术家), ruler (lawyer,律师), books (scholar,学者), phones (tech guru,技术专家), microphones (singers,歌手), or stamps (government official,政府官员).

The tradition of Zhuazhou has lasted for generations, and even though it’s highly unlikely that new parents today are still superstitious(迷信的,mí xìn de) enough to believe that their crawling baby will decide their future on their first birthday simply by choosing an item, the custom(习俗,xí sú) has been passed down through generations(代代相传,dài dài xiāng chuán) and still practiced today – but mostly just for entertainment.

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