Birth to First Birthday In Traditional
Park from Korea
a man and woman married in Korean traditional
society, social norms required that they gave birth
to as many boys as possible. Apparently, sons were
preferred since they guaranteed the continuance of
the family line and ancestor worship rituals.
who were not able to give birth to boys or who were
barren lived miserable lives. Very often, these
women resorted to invoking the benevolence of
divine nature. They sought a son by praying to the
Samshin goddess, who was
supposed to govern conception and child
by Eunyoung Park
sacred straw rope was hung over the gate
when a child was born. If the child was a
boy, pieces of charcoal and red peppers
were fastened to the rope. If a girl baby
was born, pieces of charcoal and green
pines were fastened to it.
Traditionally on a Korean child's first
birthday, the child is put in front of a
table with objects like rice cake, a book,
a pencil, money, and yarn. What the baby
chooses shows what the baby will
a woman got pregnant, she was expected to observe
certain taboos. She was advised to be specially
careful; for example: dont exhibit
licentious, adulterous, ill-intended behavior,
dont kill living things, and dont bear
hatred. She had to keep her mind and body clean and
neat. If she failed to do those things, they
believed it would cause misfortune for the
the woman was expecting a baby, the best room was
arranged for the delivery of a child. A sacred
straw rope was hung over the gateposts when the
child was born.
the child was a boy, some pieces of charcoal and
red peppers were fastened to the straw rope. If a
girl baby was born, pieces of charcoal and green
pines were fastened to it instead.
taboo rope symbolized protection against evils and
illness, and visitors were not permitted to enter
houses for at least 21 days.
the one hundredth day after the birth of child, the
baby is congratulated on having survived the
dangers of illness and the mother on having
resorted her health. It was said that the baby
would grow up healthy if pieces of rice cake and
millet cake were distributed to one hundred
one year anniversary of a birth is called
Tol. In the old days when
medical service was poor and hardly available,
infant mortality was so high that the first
birthday party was held to congratulate the baby on
its good health.
the first birthday party, a special table,
displaying many things like rice cake, fruit, a
book, a pencil, money, and a hank of yarn, was set
in front of a baby. Whatever the baby chose would
show what he or she would become.
example, the parents believed if the baby chose a
pen or book, he would be a good scholar or leader.
If he chose money, he would get rich. If he choose
a hank of yarn, it meant a long life. In my case, I
chose rice cake, so I have many chances to eat.
Its kind of fun. Nowadays, we still celebrate
the one year anniversary.
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