To learn about Doljabi, you first need to know about 'Dol' and 'Doljanchi'. Dol means the first birthday of a child and Doljanchi means a first Korean birthday party. There are many theories as to why Dol is celebrated on the child's first birthday.
One theory is that in the past when the infant mortality rate was high due to the lack of medical science, the tradition of Dol was started to pray for the stable survival of the child.
Another theory of Dol is, the first birthday party is a process to announce that one has become a member of a society because it is an opportunity to open one's children to close relatives and neighbors.
The highlight of the first birthday party is the event called 'Doljabi.'
Various objects are placed on the floor below the Dol statue. The child picks them up, and by picking them up first and second, he or she predicts their personality, quality, life span, fortune, and career choice. This is 'Doljabi.'
In the old days when men and women had different gender roles, they set up different Doljabi items for boys and girls. For boys, rice, money, books, brushes with ink, bundles of papers, bows, knives, yarn, red date, noodles, and rice cakes were placed, while for girls, needles, irons, and scissors were placed instead of bows and knives.
It’s believed that if a baby picked up a book, brush, and bundles of papers first, they would serve as a government official and that if they picked up rice and money first, they would become rich.
If they picked up the yarn and noodles first, they would live a long life. If they picked up red dates first, they would have many offspring. If they picked up rice cakes first, they would be foolish.
For girls, if they picked up needles, irons, or scissors they would be good at sewing and for boys, bows and knives represented a good hunter.
Modern Doljabi reflects the modern time and adds a variety of items depending on the parents' jobs and wishes.
For example, there are mice that symbolize computer programmers, microphones that symbolize entertainers, and golf balls that symbolize golfers.
A raffle ticket is also a part of modern Doljabi that lets guests participate in and enjoy the Doljabi event by predicting the item that the child will grab first during Doljabi. A small gift is usually provided to guests who make the right prediction.
Dol hanbok refers to a traditional Korean outfit worn by the first birthday baby at their Doljanchi, and its official name is Dolbim.
A baby boy wears a long sleeve inner wear called Jeogori, pants, and wears an indigo-colored Hedon which is a vest on top of everything.
The head is covered with a traditional Korean hat and the feet are covered with traditional socks and shoes. A Dol belt is usually worn around the waist or chest.
Baby girls wear the same clothes except their long sleeves are called Saekdong Jeogori and rather than a vest, they wear a long skirt called Dahong.
Food at Dol
After breakfast with seaweed soup and rice, the family starts their first birthday party.
The Dol table is set up in the main room with a wealth of noodles, rice cakes, fruits, and a variety of traditional Korean snacks.
In particular, Dol dishes such as noodles, white rice cakes, and red bean rice cakes are prepared to prevent long life, disease, and injustice.
Red dates and assorted fruits are to bless guests for their offspring to prosper.
We hope you’ll walk away with more knowledge of Doljabi, Dol, and Doljanchi. If you’re having a Doljanchi and you’re looking to prepare, look at our selection of Korean First Birthday Decoration Sets and Doljabi Sets to make your preparation for Doljanchi easier. If you're a guest, definitely participate in the raffle and have fun!