The last first birthday

Anna is our last baby, so it was a poignant thing to celebrate her first birthday. First birthdays are big in Korean culture, and all our other children had a dol, or Korean first birthday ceremony, where they sit in front of a low table piled high with fruit, rice cakes, and symbolic items. Everyone watches while they choose one item which, according to tradition, predicts their future life. Noodles or thread: longevity. A calligraphy brush: a writer. Pencil: a scholar. Knitting needles or scissors: nimble with the hands, perhaps a career involving handwork. Money: a head for business. And so forth.

I wrote this post for Mothering's community blog on why we almost didn't do this ceremony for Anna, but are glad we did. More pictures from our day are below. Tell me how you celebrate birthdays in your family!







18 thoughts on “The last first birthday

  1. Kelly R.

    We are American, but did give my daughter a tray of symbolic items to choose from. I got ideas for the items from a few websites, and made up a few others. She choose a maraca, so she’s going to be a musician! The family really liked this activity!

  2. TeresaR

    What a lovely celebration of a very special date in a child’s life! I enjoy learning about the different cultural customs. I know there is something like it for a certain birth date for Chinese people, but I’m so westernized now, and living far away from my family, that I don’t remember anything about it.

  3. RS

    Thank you for sharing these. Our son (adopted from Korea) arrived “home” this past June. He was 14 months old; I’d missed his first birthday. I can’t tell you how amazingly touched I was to later receive an album from his foster family with all of his dol pictures inside. The photos here are beautiful. Your daughter is cherubic in her hanbok and makes me long to keep Korea alive in our home.

  4. casino action

    I want to do something for me, but when? I have a gym membership that burns a hole in my wallet that I have not had time to go, I’d love to be creative and re-enroll in art classes or teach graphic design or take the time to learn meditation. But when my time is my turn.


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