Ritual: Choosing Your Career Path as a Baby

My informant K told me about a Korean ritual called “Dolijabi” that occurs on the 100th day after a baby is born. On the day, the baby’s parents will place different items on a table, like a book, pen, paintbrush, stethoscope, etc., and depending on what the baby touches first, it determines their career path and their future. K told me that when they were a baby, they grabbed the book that their parents set out on the table and their mom said that they were going to go into academia. They said that it did end up coming true because they are now in the Marshall School of Business here at USC studying marketing.

I had heard of this ritual growing up and found it fascinating. I sometimes wonder what I could have chosen when I was a baby and how that decision would have changed my life path compared to where I am now. I have heard other stories about Dolijabi from my other Korean friends, and some of them said that they did end up picking a career path that resembled what they picked, and some ended up doing something completely different. However, they all told me that it is more of a fun tradition for the family and that it is more of a starting point. I do think that psychology places a big part in this tradition as well because if you were to pick up a paintbrush when you were a baby, your parents could think you were going to be a painter and get you a lot of painting materials and enroll you in painting classes. Or if you had picked up a ball, your parents could sign you up to play recreational sports. If you grow up thinking you are meant to have a certain career, then it is likely that you will pursue it. I personally don’t think I would have ended up doing what I would have picked because I always thought I was going to either be a hairstylist or open a bakery when I was younger. It wasn’t until I moved to Canada that I realized I wanted to be an actor.