There are lots of different ways multicultural families deal with diversity during milestones. Personally, I believe that our son is Canadian and Korean, and I feel very strongly that both of those elements of his identity need to be honoured throughout his life. However, I think there’s a longer and stronger tradition of incoporating other cultures into Canadian culture than there is bringing Canadian elements into Korean culture, and I think there are fewer models for those of us trying to do so in Korea. Therefore, when we started thinking about planning Dragon’s dol, I decided that I wanted his party to have Canadian elements and that I wanted the party to represent our family (which is maybe a Canadian idea in and of itself).
The first area where I thought we could make such changes within the structure of the Korean dol party was with the fortune telling event. This is probably the most iconic part of the contemporary dol and a part that I really love. In this ritual, a number of items are placed before the baby, and the item the child picks is said to indicate his or her future. The items change depending on the venue and the parents, but they often include a combination of the following:
Money – (Wealth)
Thread – (Long life)
Rice – (Lots of food)
Calligraphy brush (traditional)/pencil (modern) – (Scholar)
Archery bow (traditional) /golf ball (modern) – (Sports star)
Stethoscope – (Doctor)
Gavel – (Lawyer/Judge)
Microphone – (Celebrity)
I figured it would be pretty easy to either put a slight twist on the traditional items or include some additional ones that reflected our own family. So we chose:
Concert bands from Mr. Lee’s favourite festivals (musician)
Cow (veternarian – because my sister is in vet school, and we are an animal loving family)
Hockey puck – (hockey player – the team my family supports, and we received this toy puck on our family trip to Boston in the summer)
Money – (Wealth – Canadian $10 bill + Korean 10,000 won)
Pens (Scholar – we had planned to put pens from our undergraduate alma maters and my current place of employment together, but we couldn’t get a pen from Mr. Lee’s school, so 2 out of 3).
Rope – (Long life – from our traditional wedding altar…the dol party rope is usually white)
When guests arrive at a dol, they are given a ticket and asked to choose which item they think the baby will choose. If the baby chooses the item you predicted, you are entered in a contest to win a prize.
I’m sure it’s the first time the venue ever had to print off this label.
And then there was this. ㅋㅋㅋ
Our emcee explained to the guests why we chose each item, and I think this change to the ritual was well received.
So what did Dragon pick?…..
Our son is going to be a wealthy man! Or…maybe as Mr. Lee mused…chosing the money means that he is going to use up all of our money! ㅋㅋㅋ