The ethnic minority groups are one of the endless attractions that any travelers who once taking Sapa tours are impressed the most. From their clothes, their jewelry, to their dishes, their traditions,… the mysterious ethnic minority groups in Sapa are always a source of inspiration for curious ones.
Besides Tay, Nung, Red Dao or Black H’mong, Giay ethnic minority group is also an ethnic group that has a lot of interesting customs waiting for travelers to discover, and one of their most ancient traditions that I want to tell you about is their naming tradition.
Giay ethnic minority group
To Giay ethnic minority group, the naming for a child is extremely important, which can influence all the child’s life afterwards, that’s why a new-born baby is given a name when he or she is one month old. But the naming ceremony is held a couple of days before or after they are one month old because, according the Giay, this creates a better chance for the growth of the child. Some families even hold the naming ceremony a few months after the baby is born.
The Giay people in a big ceremony
There’s one special characteristic of Giay people, that’s they don’t discriminate between boys and girls, but a bigger ceremony is often held for the first-born child. For the first-born child, they often hold a naming ceremony 30 to 33 days after she or he is born, they will choose a good date for the ceremony. All the relatives of the baby’s parents are invited to the ceremony, so the ceremony is quite big.
The procedures of the naming ceremony of the Giay people are simpler than for other ethnic groups. The offerings will include pork, chicken, duck, incense and flowers. When the offerings are ready, the ceremony begins in the presence of the whole family. The baby’s grandparents or aunt will bring the baby to the altar to introduce her or him to the ancestors. And when people are eating, the baby’s parents will bring out a tray with 8 cups of colored wine, one incense urn, one bowl of rice, and one egg, which stands vertically. They bring the tray to the elders in the family and ask them to give the baby a name. The eldest one will have that honor. He/she chooses a name and then puts some rice on the egg, if any rice seeds remain on the egg, the name is chosen. Otherwise, other elders continue to put rice on the egg until some rice remains on it”.
Naming rite is an important ceremony of Giay people
The name of the baby must be different from any relative within 3 generations. After a beautiful name is chosen and the family approves the name, the name is given to the baby. Everyone drinks a toast and gives the baby gifts along with wishes of luck, health, and happiness. The gifts will often be bracelets, silver coins, cookies, or cash. The family of the baby’s mother must attend the naming ceremony, they will have to prepare a set of gifts including a baby carrier and diapers. When the baby is given a name, they give her or him the baby carrier and sing a song about the tilling soil to grow cotton, and weaving fabric to make the baby carrier. They also wish the baby growth and health. The father’s family responds by singing thanks for the baby’s gifts.
Special gifts are given to the child
The gifts are placed on the altar together with offerings to show the ancestors that the baby has been given a name. If this is the first-born child, the grandparents and parents will thereafter be referred to using the baby’s name.
For the Giay, their children’s name is a source of happiness and pride. If someone intentionally calls them by their original name, this is an offense to them. The naming ceremony of the Giay is of great importance for them, reflecting the continuation of generations and the family order.