A couple days after Josie’s first birthday she participated in an activity organized by Les Enphants held at Taichung’s Chung Hsing University. We signed Josie up for the crawling competition and the Zhua Zhou activity [抓周]. There were also a few activities for toddlers. The event was very well organized and we found the staff extremely helpful and professional.
It was a short wait before Josie’s turn so we let her do a few laps on the stage to warm-up. Just prior to the beginning of the competition she seemed pretty eager to crawl across the mat. However, when the race began she only crawled about a meter or so. All the toys we waved and encouraging words we yelled from the finish line weren’t enough to coax her into continuing. That’s still further than anyone else in the group with the exception of two babies who were disqualified after standing up and running to the finish line.
We missed our number for the Zhua Zhou activity, but we were squeezed in another group after a short wait. Zhua Zhou [which literally translates to “pick” and “anniversary”] is an activity held on a child’s first birthday. In the activity, objects are placed on a tray and the object a child picks can indicate his or her future career and personality traits.
The tradition, said to have started during the Three Kingdoms period, arose following the death of Sun He, the prince of the Eastern Wu Kingdom. His father, the emperor Sun Quan, grew worried about which of his grandsons would succeed him, so a Wu citizen named Jing Yang suggested he place a few items on a plate and ask each of his grandsons to pick something. Sun Hao grabbed a bamboo slip – an ancient form of Chinese paper – in one hand, and an imperial belt – symbolizing royal power – in another. Both were deemed fortuitous choices that led to him being chosen as the new emperor. [The Zhua Zhou Way]
The meanings behind some items are pretty straight-forward while others require some knowledge of Chinese language or culture to understand:
- Measuring Tape – Designer / Architect
- Sword – Law Enforcement / Soldier
- Green Onion – Intelligent [green onion (蔥 cōng) and intelligent (聰 cōng) are homophones]
- Stethoscope – Doctor
- Abacus – Businessperson
- Chicken – Won’t have to worry about food
- Yuanbao [(元寶) money used in ancient China] – A life of fortune
- Book – Scholar
- Calligraphy Pen – Writer
- Stamp – Civil Servant
- Peanuts – Long Life
- Microphone – Entertainer
- Celery – Industrious [celery (芹 qín) and industrious (勤 qín) are homophones]
Our daughter picked the peanuts first followed by the stamp. After waving both around for a brief period of time she decided to set down the stamp followed by the peanuts. Afterwards, she picked up two microphones [for some reason our tray had two] and banged them together for a while. She soon grew bored of the microphones and settled again for the peanuts.
Stamp + Microphone = Politician?
Josie didn’t show much competitive drive during the crawling competition and didn’t seem thrilled during the zhua zhou activity. She was most excited as she cheered and laughed at the sight of a person in an elephant costume walking by on our way out.