Koreans celebrate an infant’s first 100 days, 백일 (pronounced “Baek-il”)… First, here’s a little background that I borrowed from AsiaSociety.org:
“Long ago in Korea childhood diseases were common and the survival rate for new born babies was very low. The high death rate was due to a lack of medical information, poor hygiene, Korea’s harsh winters and humid summers, and many other childhood related diseases. To protect their children and to give the best chance of survival, parents refrained from taking the baby outdoors until the 100th day after the birth. On that 100th day, a family would traditionally pray and give food offerings to thank the Shaman spirit of childbirth for the child having survived this difficult period. If the child was sick at this time, the family would pass the day without celebration or party as this would be considered bad luck for the infant. At this time in Korea, the 100th day was seen as a critical day of a child’s life.
If the child was in good health, the spirit was honored with offerings of rice and sea mustard soup in gratitude for having cared for the infant and the mother, and for having helped them live through a difficult period. Rice cakes and wine also played a huge part in the celebrations. Tradition claimed that by placing the rice cakes at the four compass points within the house the child would be protected. Another belief was that if the steamed rice cakes were shared with 100 people, the infant would have a long and healthy life. Therefore, rice cakes were sent to as many family, relatives and friends as possible to help celebrate the happiness of the occasion.
Traditionally the number 100 has a deep meaning of maturity in Korea; making it past the first 100 days was a sign that you would live to see your first birthday, and making it past your first birthday was a sign that you would make it out of infancy. Improvements in medicine, rapid development and modern industrialization have led to the Shamanistic reasons for the celebration being reduced. The event is still celebrated in modern day Korea as a time of congratulations for the parents and family, however it is important not to forget the traditions and meanings behind the celebration.”
Well, in a nutshell… our baby girl has made it through the first hundred days and though the traditional reasons for celebrating this milestone are no longer as relevant with medical advances, the fact that we (as first time parents) made it through was symbolic and meaningful for us and we wanted to mark the occasion with a small family party.
Truth be told, none of it went down as planned. The few family members we had over proved to be too much excitement for baby girl to handle. My husband was making dinner and entertaining while I tried to calm baby into sleep. Oh well, we tried. A few days later, we had a simple Easter brunch with the godparents and finally got to put baby in the dress she’s been staring at for over a week for some cute pictures.
It was all fun and smiles.. until it wasn’t. But, we got some really cute pictures.. Happy 100 Days to our baby girl! #Winning