Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Kenny's 1st Birthday Party 돌

I'm going to be honest with you... I never thought I'd throw a big 1st birthday party for my kid.  But then, when I was pregnant, I was discussing with my Mom how it might be nice to give Kenny a traditional Korean first birthday celebration (call a dol or 돌), even if it was just close family.  My wonderful relatives in Korea gifted us a beautiful traditional outfit (called hanbok) for him to wear, and our minds were made up... we'd be having a party!

For the party, we decorated a table with a lot of symbolic elements.  A traditional table for a dol celebration includes a number of elements, but in general, it represents hope for a bountiful future.  For Kenny's table, we had food to represent abundance, color to represent a bright and vivid future, and circles for generosity and life without hardship.  My Mom made sure that there were odd numbers (lucky!) of fruit and lots of homemade rice cakes.  I made his birthday cake and ordered decorations and party gear online.  My Mom, sister, and I made bean towers with Kenny's name spelled in Korean script and "Happy Dol".  These cost like $200-300 on Etsy, so we DIYed them ourselves for like $25.

More than 50 friends and family from six states joined us for Kenny's party, which included traditional Korean first birthday elements including a doljabi (돌잡이).

The highlight of the Korean dol (돌) is a custom called the doljabi (돌잡이) where the child is placed in front of a tray of objects and encouraged to pick one. It is believed the object the child selects will foretell the child's future.  We also had a raffle where guests could guest which object Kenny would pick, and the winner would get a Korean children's book.

Kenny picked a medallion, which symbolizes "high position" in life, such as political figure or other achievements.  He grabbed the ball next (athleticism), and then the yarn (long life).

For food, we had both American and Korean dishes, but the Korean food was a big hit!  We had bulgogi, japchae, and bibimbap from Soy Bistro.  I wish I'd taken photos, but it was so delicious it was devoured before I remembered!

We also had family portraits and party photos captured by our friend Steve Cross, who has captured so many special memories of our family's life.  Dan's mother, my parents, and my sister were a huge part of the weekend too, making the party run as smoothly as possible along with Dan and me.

That said, I think next year for his 2nd birthday, we'll just do a little cake at home and maybe something fun as a little family.  I love the Korean tradition of a big 1st birthday as something truly special to cap off that first year in the world.  He'll have a party again someday, maybe when he's old enough to ask for one!

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