Creator and influencer Sarah Kate Watson-Baik (@sarahurbanwit) gained over 2.9 million views, 890,000 likes, and 3,200 comments when she shared the special meaning behind doljanchi, the first birthday celebration of a Korean child.
According to Best of Korea, dol 돌 means “birthday,” and janchi 잔치 means “banquet” or “feast.”
However, this is not just any birthday feast. Reserved for a child’s very first birthday, the celebration is meant to bless the child’s life, as well as predict their unique calling or personality.
To do this, parents set up a special table called a dolsang. Upon this table, special items and foods are laid out — such as tteok, or, rice cakes, and plates of symbolic fruits and vegetables.
But the main feature of the dolsang is the doljabi, a fortune-telling game in which parents lay out several symbolic items meant to represent the baby’s future career or talents.
Traditional doljabi items:
- Pencil or brush: The baby will be a scholar.
- Money: The baby will be wealthy.
- Rice: The baby will have a life of plenty.
- Thread: The baby will live a long life.
- Bow and arrow: The baby will have a military career.
- Pincushion: The baby will be flexible and creative.
Modern doljabi items:
- Microphone: The baby will be an entertainer.
- Stethoscope: The baby will be a doctor.
- Gavel: The baby will be a lawyer or judge.
- Computer mouse: The baby will be a software engineer.
- Golf Ball/baseball: The baby will be an athlete.
TikTokers around the world were shocked to realize their own cultures celebrated birthday traditions similar to the doljabi.
“Vietnamese culture does this too! My nephew chose the the stethoscope on his first birthday!” one user shared.
“[This is] similar to a Hindu ceremony. My kids picked books and a knife (surgery),” another user wrote.
“In Romania, [we have] a similar tradition where the child [chooses] items from a tray that tell about their future!” commented another user.
“We have the same tradition in Malta. It’s called quċċija and it’s also the choosing of an object to predict the future,” another user wrote.
Others simply thanked Sarah for the opportunity to learn something new.
“Thanks for sharing! It’s really nice to see different cultures,” one user wrote.
“This is so cool! I love learning about other cultures,” commented another user.
We hope that Sarah and her lovely family will continue to share their special multicultural traditions — or, at the very least, share photos and videos of their sweet little Luna!
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