“In the Korean culture, we celebrate a baby’s first birthday. This is like a sweet sixteen, just when you’re one years old. The baby obviously doesn’t remember this celebration, but it’s mostly for the parents for raising their child successfully for an entire year. One tradition during Dolnal is when the baby gets to “choose” his or her future career. The parents will have laid out different objects in a line. Some of the things may be a stethoscope to represent being a doctor, a book for a lawyer, money for being rich, ect. Then the baby would be seated in front of the different objects and he or she would have to crawl over and choose an object. Whichever object they choose would be their future career!”
As a baby, I celebrated Dolnal as well. Obviously I do not remember any of this because I was only one years old, but there are photos that my parents have shown me. Until recently, I really thought a baby’s first birthday was celebrated this hugely in all cultures. However, I realized it was mostly with Koreans that parents invested in their child’s first birthday because I didn’t celebrate my sweet sixteen like some of my other friends did. I have been to other baby’s Dolnals and they are always great. It is a time to celebrate for their parents and a good time for friends to come together to admire the baby.
Irene Choi is a 21 year old, junior, studying Theatre Set Design. She is a friend that I have always heard about, but got close to because we took a class together. All the stories that she told me are from the Korean culture. She grew up living in the United States most of her life, so the folktales are whatever she heard and learned from her parents. She identifies herself as a second generation Korean, but tries her best to keep her identity as a Korean.
Irene told me her folklores in a casual setting. We were spending time together and I just randomly asked her to share any folklore she had.