First Birthdays

The Korean first birthday party (dol) culminates with the doljabi ritual, during which the child is shown a variety of objects that represent different possible fates. Whatever the child picks up first is meant to foretell his or her future. There are some variations on what is set before the child, but the most basic objects are:

  • A thread for long life
  • A pen for scholarship
  • Money for wealth
  • Chopsticks for a life without hunger

Here are photos from the doljabi of all the children in my family in birth order.

My niece chose…

the pen!

My oldest son chose…

the pen!

My second son chose…

the pen again!

My triplet nephews chose…

the pen! the pen! and yes: the pen!

“Oh, come on!,” we were all thinking by this point. “Couldn’t at least one of you pick the money? Who’s going to pay off all those college loans for you scholars?”

My daughter chose (cue the suspenseful music)…

the pen!

One last chance. My  nephew chose…

the pen!

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