A little Korean Party Culture

I find myself daydreaming a lot about our first few months at home with our third child.  It feels so far away right now, but at the same time, I know how quickly time goes when you stay busy.  And with two children, we are very good at staying busy.

So sometimes I may use this blog as a way to store ideas for later, just in case they get overlooked when we come home.

It’s an almost certainty that we will miss our child’s first birthday party.  I don’t like to think about this too closely because it makes me sad, but at the same time, I do think we may know who our child is in time for their first birthday.  So we’ll be able to send presents and hopefully see some of the celebration through photos or videos provided by our child’s foster parents.

However, there’s another tradition we will miss that I think can be recreated when we get home:  the 100-day party

At the height of my Etsy shop’s sales, I had a particular design that gained a lot of traction all over the world.  Pretty soon, I started getting requests for it in other languages or for other cultural traditions.  One of those was the 100-day celebration.  As I was thinking about these 100-day parties, I started researching more about Korean party traditions in general.

In Korean culture, there is a longstanding tradition of holding a party to celebrate a child’s first 100 days after birth.  It was started when infant mortality rates were high, but has continued even with major medical advances.

One common food served at the 100-day celebration is rice cakes.  It is said that if 100 people eat the rice cakes, the child will have a long and healthy life.

For both birthdays and the 100-day celebration, miyeok-guk (seaweed soup) is prepared.  This soup is traditionally eaten by the birth mother in the first month postpartum.  It’s believed the iodine and calcium in the meal helps with uterine contraction and milk production.  Koreans serve it for a first birthday as a reminder of the mother’s pain and care.

Another common first birthday tradition is known as Doljabi (돌잡이).  Several objects are placed on a table in front of the baby, and then the parents urge the baby to grab one.  Whatever item the child chooses is said to predict something about their future.  For example, choosing money predicts wealth.  Choosing a computer mouse predicts working with technology.  Choosing rice means the child will never go hungry.

I would love to take these traditions and turn them into our own 100-days at home party when the time comes.  I don’t know how much interest our child will have in his or her cultural heritage as he/she grows up, but I do want him/her to know we are supportive of whatever he/she wants to learn.  Since we won’t have first birthday party photos to look back on, I think it would be really special to have 100-day party photos and memories to treasure in our hearts forever.

Maybe this is really optimistic and naive, but I still wanted to write it down — just in case I were to forget!

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