When my friend told me she had been invited once to a Navajo first laugh party, I felt like that had to be something the party-throwers had made up. So I googled it. Turns out it’s totally a real thing! I was thrilled! Even my husband – who is a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to having parties for babies when the baby is indifferent to our celebrations – jumped on board with wanting to implement this cute tradition! And now that Brett had his first big belly laugh, it begs the question – should we be throwing a first laugh party next weekend?? But really. I keep thinking we should just do it.
What is a Navajo First Laugh Party?
If you haven’t guessed yet, or think like me that it can’t possibly be as straight-forward as the name suggests, a Navajo first laugh party is, in fact, a celebration of a baby’s first real laugh, and even a spiritual event in a baby’s life.
Who throws the party??
Traditionally, the person that elicits the first laugh gets to be a guest of honor while the baby is the real host.
What do you do at the party?
Whatever you want! It’s a party! Have some music, treats, dance, make the baby laugh some more, and eat, of course. The host’s job (the baby and family in this case) is to feed each guest or give something generous to encourage the baby to continue to generously share their laughter and kindness as they grow.
When do babies first laugh?
Usually babies have their first laugh around three months old.
Why is this a thing?
The main idea is that Navajos believe that newborns are still in the world of “Diyin Dine”, or The Holy People, and laughter is one of the signs that they are moving away from that world and choosing to settle in with their family in this world.
I even found the cutest looking book on Amazon that I think I need. Just don’t tell the husband I’m buying more books until it’s here. Shhh.
So here’s the most interesting part about the Navajo first laugh party – not just the Navajos have this tradition. Across the world different cultures have different celebrations around this three month milestone. The Navajos just happened to correlate the laughing with that 90-day timeframe and make a party out of it.
You see, many different traditions believe that newborns are in a type of in-between place, where their life is so fragile that they aren’t fully committed to this Earth yet. Like a part of them is still attached to a spirit world or heaven from where they came. They are having some of their most important and identifying experiences as a newborn. Once a baby has hit this milestone and proves it’s still healthy and laughs, then parents can feel a little more confident that their child is strong enough to stay and happy enough to spread some joy to others. I’d say that’s something worth celebrating!
So if you know someone with a baby about to hit their three-month mark, and you also are aching for a social life, then step up and offer to host a first laugh party!