Everyone across the globe is familiar with the tradition of a first birthday party. This is also the case in traditional Korean society with the practice of “Dol.” However, in some families and areas of Korea, a tradition of celebrating a Korean infant’s life is named “Baek-il.” Families celebrate this event on the 100th day after the child’s’ birth.
It’s necessary to take a backward glance into Koreas’ history to understand this celebration’s reason and significance. Years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for young infants to experience various diseases, thereby making the survival rate very low for these tiny bundles of joy. Aside from disease, the high death rate largely contributed to a lack of medical education and care, poor hygiene, and extreme weather conditions.
The times were vastly different from today. Families were left alone without the assistance of government centers, competent medical care, or https://diamondlaw.ca/real-estate/closing-cost-calculator.
What Happens at 100 Days
The 100th day of life is the first-day parents will allow their infants to leave home, and often the first-day outsiders may come to visit. The family marks this day with traditional prayer and food offerings to give thanks to the “Spirit of Childbirth” for allowing the child to live thus far. This day is one of the most important days in the child and family life.
According to Korean history and legend, 100 has a deep meaning of life. If an infant was lucky enough to survive healthily until this marker, it was viewed as a joyous blessing that they’d live to celebrate their first birthday. This gave hope to many families as this was a positive sign the child would likely survive past infancy.
However, if the child were sick at this time of their 100 days, no celebration would be held. Instead, the families would take this time to pray for and care for the infant to avoid any negative omens that may present.
Rice cakes and wine are both traditional staples of the 100-day meal. The rice cakes should be shared amongst at least 100 people, including the family, relatives, and friends. As long as this happens, the child is believed to have a vibrant, healthy, and suitable future. The rice cakes are customarily placed around the home at each corner to signify a barrier of protection.
There are several varieties of rice cakes to prepare. Baekseolgi (steamed rice cake), bulkunp’at gomul (red bean rice cake), ch’alsusu gyongdan, and osaek songp’yeon (5-color moon rice cake) are the most traditional. For example, the Baekseolgi has a meaning of holiness. Bulkunp’at gomul is believed to ward off evil spirits, and songp’yeon represents nature’s harmony with its five colors.
How to Dress
The tiny guest of honor, and the parents, are traditionally dressed in “hanbok” or traditional Korean clothing. It’s known for its comfort and ease of movement. Historically it can be dated back to the Goguryeo Dynasty, one of the Three Ancient Kingdoms of Korea.
Both men and women wear a jeogori or jacket. Women wear a long skirt named chima, and men wear wide, roomy pants called baji. Although the hanbok’s basic design has been barely altered, different varieties are seen today, and more color options available.
Koreans put a lot of emphasis on history and tradition. This particular custom is viewed more as a way to give thanks and appreciation for progress that has been made as a society while also remembering that life is not something to take for granted.
More modernly, tweaks have been made with the food variety and decor, but the underlying symbolism remains and likely will for centuries to come.