Saturday, October 31, 2009

Paek il

(Today's post is a guest post by Dad.)

Today's the day! Chloë is officially 100 days old.

The Korean culture includes the months the baby spent in the womb when calculating age. 100 days after the birth is approximately 1 year from conception. The baby's first birthday.

The Korean word for it is "Paek il" and it's defined as the celebration of baby's first 100 days in which money and other gifts are given to parents for the baby.

After the baby is properly dressed, they are seated in front of a large table. And on the table you will find different types of food and fruits. You will also find threads, books, calligraphy brushes, ink, money, arrows or daggers, rice, needles, and scissors. After the baby is seated with the objects in front of her, everyone attending the ceremony waits patiently to see which object the baby will grab. It is believed that the object which is picked up first will foretell the baby's future. For example, if the baby picks up a calligraphy brush or a book, then it is believed that she will be a scholar. If she picks up an arrow or a dagger, she will be a soldier. Finally if the baby picks up the money or rice, it is believed that she will be blessed with wealth. If the thread is chosen, it is believed that the baby will have a long life. Guests usually bring gift of money, clothes, or gold rings. After the ceremony, the departing guests are given rice cakes.

Here are some facts about the Korean tradition:

1) In the old days, there were significantly high infant mortality rates and a baby surviving the first 100 days had a significantly higher chance for survival into childhood and beyond.

2) Traditionally, for the first 100 days, only very close family are to come in contact with the baby and the baby does not go outside at all.

3) When a baby girl is born, the birth is announced by hanging a white cloth (or a string of peppers for a baby boy) at the front door of the house. It tells visitors that there is a new baby in the house and it is respectful to refrain from visiting in fear of the baby's health.

4) Baby wears only white clothing during the first 100 days, because white cotton clothes are the easiest to sterilize by boiling. On the 100th day the baby wears colorful clothes for the first time and other adults can hold her.

5) On the morning of the 100th day of the baby's birth, either the mother or the grandmother (of the baby's parents) prepares rice, seaweed soup, and other white items and prays to the ancestors to bless the child with long life and good fortunes. Then the rice and the soup is fed to the birthmother.

6) Typically, the baby's hair is cut and tied in a lock and kept in safety until the baby comes of age (age of majority). The hair is returned to the grown child to remind her of the eternal love of her parents. The child would keep the hair as a reminder of the thanks to the parents bringing her into life.

7) Prepared white and other rice cakes are shared with as many people as possible to spread the blessing. People who share the rice cakes present gifts to wish happiness and long life.

8) Although the baby already has been given a name for the records, adults may see the baby for the first time and give her a baby name as a sign of adoration. Typically this baby name is used only inside the house.

1 comment:

Jade L Blackwater said...

This is such a cool post!! Thanks for sharing!

Did you set out objects for Chloë so that she might clue you in on her interests??

Happy Paek il baby Chloë!