First Birthdays in Korea


The very first birthday of a baby, called a doljanchi, is very important in Korean culture. The doljanchi is a centuries-old tradition that many Korean people still practice today. Although I have never been to a doljanchi, I learned all about it in my Korean class and I hope I can go to a doljanchi before I leave South Korea.

What tradition did I learn about?:

Doljanchi is a first birthday celebration. Dol means birthday and janchi means feast. For the doljanchi, Korean parents celebrate the first birthday of their baby by having a feast with many traditional foods, but the most important foods are seaweed soup and rainbow-colored rice cakes. During a doljanchi, family and friends get together and eat these dishes. The baby usually wears traditional-style clothing such as a hanbok.

The highlight of the doljanchi is the doljabi. The doljabi is when the parents put several items on a table such as books, money and threads. These things represent wisdom, wealth and good health. Whichever item the baby picks first predicts what type of person the baby will be when they grow up!