Monday, November 16, 2009

Alex's First Birthday At Last!

Guest post from Daddy

Alex is one year old! It's hard to believe a year has gone by so quickly! She is looking more and more like a little girl and less like a baby all the time.
In Korean culture, the first birthday is a very important event to celebrate. Back in the old days, a lot of babies didn't make it to that age due to disease, war, and other calamities. So whenever a baby did make it to that age, it was a time to celebrate! There were several traditions that were followed. The baby would be dressed in a traditional Korean outfit called a hanbok. Relatives and friends would all come to the house to enjoy a feast. Then came the big moment: the baby would be seated in front of several different objects, each with a different symbolic meaning. Whichever object the baby picked up first would be a prediction of what the baby's life would turn out like. The tradition is still carried on to this day, and Catherine and I wanted Alex to participate as well.

Catherine and her parents planned the party, and they did an amazing job. We gave the party on Sunday, November first, which was actually four days before her real birthday. Catherine's mother made all sorts of great dishes for the partygoers. Catherine bought a great cake for Alex, and invited dozens of her friends to celebrate Alex's big day.

After everyone got here, the moment of truth arrived. Alex was seated in front of three objects -- a pen, a book and some money. If she chose the pen, it meant that she would be creative; if she chose the book, studious and good in school (and possibly a scholar; some of these objects have different meanings); and if she chose the money, she would be rich. There was also some rice in front of her. That was meant to be a snack, but later we learned that rice can also be used in the ceremony; picking it means you will never go hungry.

So what did Alex choose? The book! We are looking forward to having a great student in the family in years to come!

A little later, Catherine lit the sole candle on Alex's birthday cake, and helped her to blow it out (you can see the cake and candle in the lower right of the photo below). Everyone dug in.

Alex got an amazing haul of presents from friends and relatives. She also received a bunch of balloons that are still around even weeks later. And a few days after the official party, she actually turned one year old. We had a small birthday party with just the immediate family, and took Alex to Red Robin, where she had her favorite food, french fries. Not exactly traditional, but she loved it! She even got some ice cream for dessert.

Catherine and I are looking forward to the seeing what the next year brings for her!!