Tag Archives: divination

Korean Doljanchi


JK: In Korea there is a particular celebration for 1-year olds. Korean “doljanchi” is the first birthday celebration. Technically Koreans view birthdays in different times than Western cultures but the first year birthday is very important. The 1-year old is dressed in very traditional clothing and so are the guests, they wear hanboks. There is a lot of fruit everywhere and rice cakes. One of the most important things is the baby choosing an item. There are a lot of things laid out in front of the baby, money, paintbrush, stethoscope, gavel, that sort of thing. Then whatever the baby grabs or touches is meant to influence their future in Korea. For example if they grab a pencil, they’re gonna be a scholar, if they grab money they are going to be rich.


JK’s family is Korean as well and he participated in this culture as a baby. He grabbed the pencil and money. He doesn’t know if it influenced his future, but he is here pursuing higher education and “hopefully the money will come in soon.”


Other cultures have similar coming of age rituals that are conducted on a child’s birthday. These rituals are meant to determine a child’s future and celebration of their first milestone. Most cultures have a birthday celebration meant to recognize when a child becomes an adult, such as a quinceanera or a bar mitzvah. This specific divination ritual is practiced in other cultures as well, notably in China. Other Asian cultures have varying rituals for the first birthday. In India, the child’s head is shaved to purify them of any evil committed in a past life. This ritual is heavily influenced by the large presence of Hinduism in India.

“When you tie the paper wrapping of a straw into a knot, if the knot breaks, nothing happens, but if you end up with an intact knot, it means someone is thinking of you.”

The informant first heard this in the seventh grade while out with her classmates at the local In-and-Out.  This occurrence normally happens at fast food restaurants, simply because these are the places that typically dispense paper covered straws.  Usually only the boys and girls who have a secret or not-so-secret crush that they are thinking about.  When unwrapping the straw, the paper is kept and a single knot is tied. The informant was told to tug firmly but not too strongly to secure the knot.  With the final tug, if the knot remains, then it means that your crush is thinking about you at that very moment.  If the knot comes undone with the final tug, it means that you crush more than likely doesn’t return your special feelings.  The informant just thinks of this as another way that teens take up their time thinking about their crushes and trying to figure out whether or not they return their feelings because they are too afraid to ask themselves.  However, she still plays along and performs the simple knot, just to see if someone is “thinking about her” because it is fun and amusing to ponder who actually might be thinking of you at the moment.

I believe that this is a cute way of joking around with one’s friends.  When a group of friends knows that one among them has a secret crush, it is simple and easy to tease the person.  If the wrapper ends in a knot, the group can easily tease the person about their secret crush, and often times among middle schoolers, the group can produce a blush in the person’s cheeks.  Although this may seem like a cruel form of school teasing, it is merely a humorous attempt at lightening the situation and helping the person have not take his or her crush too seriously, in case of future heartbreak.  I think the knot symbolizes the “knot” tied in marriage between a groom and bride, signaling a promise made between two people. This might be where the image of the paper knot came to represent feelings of love and crushes came from.