Doljabi is a Korean tradition that occurs in a Korean First Birthday Celebration commonly known as Doljanchi. You might've heard the word, 'Dol' and that means first birthday.
Doljabi is the highlight of Doljanchi and is practiced by both native and non-native Koreans. It's one of the few traditions of Doljanchi that has been successfully passed down for centuries.
What exactly is Doljabi?
Doljabi is a tradition where a baby chooses 1-3 Doljabi items from 6-9 Doljabi items that are laid out in front of them. Each item has it's own representation, usually a blessing or a valuable occupation, and it is believed that the item(s) a baby picks will reveal their future.
In modern times, people may not easily believe that a Doljabi item will pave a baby's future or truly grant blessings, however in the past, Koreans highly regarded the fortunetelling aspect of Doljabi due to the prevalence of Korean Shamanism.
Infant mortality rate was high in the past so Koreans believed that the deity they praised guided their baby to survive up to their first birthday and would further guide the baby through the blessing inherited by the Doljabi item.
Doljabi has two primary purposes.
- Foretell the baby's future
- Bless the baby
It is these two reasons why Doljabi has stood the test of time and is still continued to this day.
How do I prepare for Doljabi?
When hosting your own Doljabi, you'll likely want a Doljabi Set for your Doljabi.
The Doljabi Set you can use can either be a modern Doljabi Set or a Traditional Doljabi Set.
Modern Doljabi Sets usually have items that are career-related such as an airplane for pilot and computer mouse for computer engineer whereas traditional Doljabi Sets center around blessings and broad occupations such as a yarn for long life and traditional Korean book for scholar.
Below are a few examples of the meaning of Doljabi items in traditional and modern Doljabi Sets.
Doljabi Items Meaning
Traditional Doljabi Items
Modern Doljabi Items
Doljabi items with meanings that may be ambiguous are traditional Doljabi items. It may be vague what a yarn or 5 color paper really means without an extensive background in Korean culture. Because of the ambiguity of certain traditional Doljabi items, we provide a clear meaning of each traditional Doljabi item that we offer and we offer most if not all!
The meaning of modern Doljabi items are easy to decipher because they are based on modern occupations and take the form of objects closely related to the occupation such as a piano for pianist. With modern Doljabi items, you can even give your own meaning to the items because an established meaning for each modern Doljabi item does not exist. As long as most of your guests can see the relationship between the meaning you gave to your Doljabi item and the Doljabi item, you will be okay!
How many items do I use in Doljabi?
There isn't a specific number you're allowed to use but we suggest 6-9 items 😀.
Traditionally, 2 items are picked up by babies. However, with more Doljabi items in modern Doljabi Sets, providing babies with 3 options is not uncommon in modern Doljabis.