Korean parents traditionally hold a celebration when their baby turns
100 days 1 year old. I believe this goes back to the days when health care was spotty, especially in rural areas. The idea was that if your baby had survived this long, it was probably in it to win it, so it was officially party time.
What they do is lay out a spread of foods that were probably fantastic to ye olde Koreans but aren’t super sexy these days: piles of apples, pears, dates, rice cakey things, etc. Alongside the food is a collection of symbolic items. Each item represents something about the baby’s future; whatever the
100-day 1 year old child plays with or touches first is supposed to be a prophecy.
- A pen and paper (which, I’d imagine, was more like a scroll and brush back in the day) – The child will grow to be learned and wise.
- A bowl of rice – The child will be well-nourished, healthy… fertile, even?
- Some string – The child will live a long life.
- Money – Cha-ching! Hold onto that one, fer reals.
Here are some photos from my
100 day 1 year celebration.
I asked my mom what symbolic item I touched. She wasn’t sure, but she thinks that both my sister and I went for the pen and paper. Cool, right? I asked what my brother touched, and she said they didn’t get around to throwing a party for him. Sad. She then laughed, “[He probably would have wanted cigarettes.]”
UPDATE: On Christmas day Alice informed me that I had it wrong; the baby goes through this rite of passage at a year old. Honestly, I did find myself marvelling about how huge I looked at 100 days. I just didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to draw attention to what a fatty I am.