Theo's Dol (Korean First Birthday)

We've shared before about how our family is a multicultural family. We are Chinese, Indonesian and Korean. Growing up with two very different cultures, I felt really proud of my heritage because my parents instilled certain values and customs in us. I want our son to have pride in his roots and so it was important to me to honor these traditions.

Dol is a colorful celebration of babies' first year of life. It marks a major milestone and serves as a blessing for the child's future. My uncle got Theo a beautiful hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) sent from Korea. My mother prepared the food while Kevin and I spent two weeks painstakingly making the dolgoim (decorative towers). We made three: one with his Korean name 'Juwan', chosen by my mother meaning 'perfect king', a second that says happy first birthday, and a third with a horse for his zodiac sign.

One of the highlights of these parties is the doljabi. Several items are placed in front of the baby and whichever they choose is a sign of their future fortune or success. Thread for long life, money for wealth, book for knowledge. In modern days, we add a couple extra fun items like a basketball or car, whatever the parents dream for their baby. What did Theo choose? The stethoscope! Who would have thought! Although it's an Asian stereotype, It'll be interesting to see if we do have a future doctor in the making. :)