Background on Informant:
Currently a student, my informant grew up in a Korean household and has shared with me the many traditions she grew up practicing and experienced throughout her life.
“In Korea, a baby’s first birthday is one of the most important birthdays they will ever celebrate. The first birthday party is called Doljanchi.
During this tradition, a child is placed in front of a various amount of objects which could include anything from: a soccer ball, stethoscope, money, wool, rice, a pencil, and others. These are objects that symbolize something about your destiny, career, and lifestyle.
On my first birthday, I picked the money (hehe) which means that I’ll be rich in the profession I pursue.
Children are also dressed in traditional Korean clothing, I wore a hanbok for mine.
It’s a very important milestone in in childhood. It’s a tradition that I’ve appreciated and have watched my siblings have and family friends, so it is an integral part of Korean culture.”
Learning about doljanchi, I was intrigued by the emphasis of identity and childhood placed upon it. I love how important it is for children to be celebrated and the emphasis on pre-destination of where the future is headed. Korean folklore and customs tie into family honor and bond and it is apparent in nearly every tradition that Koreans celebrate. I think it’s really cool how they make the first birthday special and valued and after researching brief history, I learned that it began as a major celebration due to infant mortality, the importance behind its’ legacy. The tradition stems from a long history of tragedy, yet in today’s modern day it has grown into a tradition of celebrating childhood.
For more information visit: