In both Chinese and Korean cultures, a baby’s first birthday might involve a big todo. Zhua zhou in Chinese and doljanchi (or dol for short) in Korean, the ceremony involves dressing baby in traditional clothing and having her grab an object that will supposedly determine her future.
My brother and sister-in-law went the Korean route since I think it’s a bigger deal in Korean American culture, and my sister-in-law, with help from her mom, actually knows how to set it up.
Originally my mom and I were supposed to fly out there, and they were going to have a big party, but obviously those things didn’t happen. Instead we got to see the whole adorable thing on FaceTime.
My niece looked so ridiculously cute in her hanbok and jobawi. She also had this look on her face like, “What the hell is going on?” There was a beautiful set up on a table with cake, fruit, candles, and my niece’s name spelled out. They took some pictures (my mom and I on the iPad) and then it was time for my niece to pick an object.
The choices were a gavel (for law), a karaoke microphone (for entertainment I suppose), a stethoscope, and money. (No pen or paintbrush haha.) And what she went for was … drumroll please …
We all cheered when she did, and then she just looked at all of us like, “What the fuck?” and pretty much froze. But on the second time, she also grabbed it so we just went with that.
The next part of the ceremony was the cake smashing. Again she was so adorable sitting there in her skivvies (so they wouldn’t have to deal with sticky, messy clothes) looking confused. Instead of a whole cake, my sister-in-law made banana muffins with yogurt frosting so my niece was able to grab each one to very slowly check out before smashing them. Her mom ended up helping her eat a little, and then my niece also kept holding the muffins out to her mom to share. DEAD OF CUTENESS.
I wonder if in the end it was better not to have a big party. My niece might have been completely overwhelmed with all these people staring at her and cheering. Regardless I’m so grateful that my mom and I were able to watch it together.