First birthday parties are really really really important in Korea. They are important in Canada too, but whereas the typical Canadian party is an individually planned house party with close family and friends, the Korean event is a mini wedding (actually, they often happen in buildings which also include wedding ceremonies, and many wedding clothing rental shops have a birthday business on the side). The contemporary party (doljanchi or dol for short), is typically a large event held in a special hall or increasingly, a restaurant which specializes in such events. There are fancy dresses or hanboks, a professional photographer, a professional movie about the baby, a professional emcee, take home gifts, etc etc. Yes, it’s really a mini wedding.
We chose to celebrate Dragon’s first birthday here in Korea because the dol is so much more of an event here, and also because the timing meant that if we were to go to Canada, Mr. Lee would have to miss his son’s party. So instead, we flew my mum over for the party, and my sister, who was traveling in Russia just prior, came for a visit before she had to return to her studies.
I do dislike the cookie cutter aspects of the Korean dol, but in general, I like it. It’s a bit over the top…but, well, let’s be honest. Parents are usually really over the top about their kids, so it works. And things that make me cringe in Korean wedding hall weddings seem much more endearing when translated into the doljanchi.
So over the next few posts, I will discuss how we tried to make Dragon’s dol a little more our own and tell you how it all went!