On December 16th our extended family had two significant birthdays: my brother’s 40th and his son’s 1st, which of course stole all the birthday thunder. I meant to update about my nephew’s dohl last month, but with the holidays and travel I am just now getting to it. Korean culture celebrates the 1st birthday (dohl) in a big way because infant mortality in the past was so high that it was indeed a momentous celebration. We Becketts were pretty low-key with our kids’ dohls, but Peter and Robin went all out. My Caucasian sister-in-law did us proud and even got my soft-hearted brother all choked up when reflecting on how enthusiastically she has embraced Korean culture.
They did a lot of preparations themselves and transformed their church basement into a total Thomas birthday arena. Their hard work really paid off.
Every dohl has a dohljabee where various items are placed in front of the birthday child. Each item represents something and whatever item the child picks is supposed to predict his or her future. For example, a pen/pencil means he will be a scholar and money means he will have wealth, yarn means a long life, etc. At Thomas’ party, guests had the opportunity to wager votes on what item they thought he would pick by placing their names in that item’s jar. If Thomas picked their item, they would be eligible for a prize depending on which name from that jar got picked.
The birthday table is usually decorated with piles of fruit for prosperity and dduk or Korean rice cakes (rainbow layered in this case). On one tower are the Korean words for 1st birthday and on the other is Thomas’ Korean name, Young Joon. He was born in 2010 which was the year of the tiger according to Chinese zodiac calendar, so there is also the tiger theme on the table and cupcakes.
When it came time for Thomas to do the dohljabee, he was not one to be rushed. He sat and sat. We coaxed and coaxed. He teased with minor movement, and then we waited and coaxed some more. Can we blame him from his perspective? (He is wearing a hanbok, or traditional Korean clothing.)
He ended up picking the maraca (musical instrument) first and then the children’s Bible second, so maybe he’ll end up in musical ministry? He also was not to be rushed when eating his smash cake made by his Grandma Niehaus. Since he was so neat about it, we were able to enjoy its tasty goodness, too, the next day for dessert.
Besides all this, there was a face-painter for the kids and gluten-free treats for those who couldn’t partake in the cupcakes (Connor models both for you.)
With all that, we still were able to celebrate my brother’s going over the hill that night with dinner with all the Kim’s and Niehaus’s.
It was a great birthday celebration weekend, and we are all so thankful for happy occasions like these to get together and party.