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I need help with understanding the "Kai ma" relationship

  1. #1
    capital is offline Banned
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    I need help with understanding the "Kai ma" relationship

    My husband (who is from HOng Kong)wants to have a friend of his be our children's "Kai ma" or godparent. This lady is a generation older than us. His own mom passed away 2 years ago, and no aunts or anything, so I dont' really know what are the social expectations of this relationship and I don't have anyone to ask. It turns out my husband doesn't really know either, because kai ma is the one who told him that if he wanted to make it official we should have a big dinner at a Chinese restaurant. So I am hoping someone here might be able to explain this relationship to me and what are the social obligations on my end. Do we buy gifts for her and on what occasion. What does the "official dinner" typically entail. What other things that I wouldn't have a clue about do I need to know. Thus far this relationship consists mainly kai ma buying obscene amounts of candy for my boys

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    anoninhk is offline Registered User
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    I've never been to one of these things but on TV shows, they usually have the godchild kneel in front of the godmother with a cup of tea, and say "yum cha, kai ma". She would sip a bit, then give her new godchild a lucky red packet and /or a gift, usually a gold object. The most traditional gift is a golden bowl and rice. That's all there is to it I think. The people attending the dinner are just there to witness it. I don't think protocol requires any gift on your end but it'll be nice of you to prepare one for her.

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    anoninhk is offline Registered User
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    ^ typo, sorry. The most traditional gift is a golden bowl and chopsticks.

    Btw, when I say gold I mean the 24k, 9.999 real stuff!

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    carang is offline Registered User
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    hmmm.... sounds an awful lot like the wedding tea ceremony we had to do when we got married.

    my mum has friends who call her "kai ma"... but there was never anything "done".... they were in university in canada and my mum kind of took them under her wing....17 years later, they are still friends.

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    My husband is Chinese and has two "kai mas". One, I believe, was chosen at his birth or christening. No idea of any formal ceremony though. But I do know that even though we don't really know her that well, we still have to visit her every CNY and she still gives us larger lai see than other family friends ;) We don't really do anything now besides visiting her at CNY - but my hubby is quite Westernised...

    His other kai ma was more "self-ordained" or informal. He lived here with his dad from the ages of 9-14 or so, just the two of them pretty much. This kai ma was his best friend's mother - he met his friend through school and spent a lot of time at their house and with their family since his dad was working a lot - without them he would have really raised himself. We still have a close family relationship with her, even though that my husband's friend is now living overseas. My husband calls her "kai ma" although I don't think his parents really have the same relationship with her and her family. But I think we will always have some kind of respect and relationship with her because of what she did for my hubby when he was just a kid. I'm actually closer to this kai ma than I am to my MIL!

    All that to say, you don't have to have a "formal kai ma", can have it more informal if you want. But it is more or less like "god mother" and all that entails in a Western family...

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