I had the honor of attending and photographing Gales First Birthday Celebration last week, I first met Gale when he was around 6 weeks old and you can see his first baby portrait in the baby section of our website.
1st Birthday Tradition
In the past, due to a lack of medical information, Korea's seasonal temperature differences, and many childhood related diseases, the death rate for children was extremely high. Many children died before their first birthday. After the age of one year, the survival rate steeply increased, making this milestone a very happy one for the child's parents.
In modern times, due to the improvements in medicine, the influence of Western culture, and modern industrialization, the Shamanistic reasons for the Tol celebration have been reduced. However, the event is still celebrated as a time of congratulations for the parents and family.
Taking pictures is an important part of the event. As many Korean homes are very small, many families rent a room in a banquet hall. The modern celebration includes the child's parents greeting guests, lighting candles on a birthday cake, the Toljabee event, and a toast.
The clothes worn for the tol (tol-bok) are colorful, dressy clothes. They differ depending on the child's sex. Both boys and girls wear a long tol-ddi (a belt that wraps around the body twice) for longevity and a tol-jumuni (pouch) for luck. Silk cloth is used to make the tol-jumuni, folded at the top with a colorful thread pull-string to open and close. For the child's longevity buttons are not used.
At the Toljabee Event, the birthday child goes around the table and picks up items that attract him or her. The child's future is predicted according to the what he or she grabs. After placing the child in front of the table, the child's father becomes the guide for the child to go around the table and grab whatever he or she wants. The first and second items the child grabs are considered the most important.
Gale chose the book first, then the ruler, then the money.
This means that he will become a successful scholar, talented with his hands and wealthy.
Happy 1st Birthday Gale :)