Korean Birthday Traditions – Special Birthdays In Korean Culture!

korean birthday traditions

Have you ever heard about the five special birthdays in Korean culture? If you haven’t, you need to keep reading because I will share the five special birthdays in Korean Birthday Traditions. Let’s dive right into these special days in Korean culture!

Table of Contents

Korean Birthday Traditions

In Korean birthday traditions, there are five birthday celebrations that’s more significant than others, known as Baek-il (100 Days), Doljanchi (the first birthday), Hwangap (60th), Chilsun (70th) and Palsun (80th) birthday.

These birthdays are significant because they signify life growth and journey. Let’s take a deeper look at these special birthdays.

1. Baek-il (백일) - 100 Days Celebration

korean birthday traditions

Credit to mommy-diary

Koreans first birthday celebration is when their baby’s reach 100 days, known as Baek-il (백일). 

Usually, Koreans celebrate this birthday by having a small party with close friends and family. In this celebration, Koreans serve a particular food that represents specific wishes. 

  • Miyeok-guk (미역국) – served as breakfast to show honor to the mother.
  • Baekseolgi (백설기) – represents purity of heart.
  • Songpyeon (송편) – represents harmony with others.

Koreans will share the rice cakes with many others because there’s a belief if they share one hundred rice cakes, the baby will be blessed with good health and longevity.

However, if the baby is sick on their 100th day, Koreans will cancel this celebration due to the belief it is bad luck.

2. Doljanchi (돌잔치) - First Year Anniversary

korean birthday traditions

Credit to Wikipedia

The second most significant birthday is Doljanchi(돌잔치), the first-year birthday. 

Doljanchi celebration is significant because historically, many Korean babies died before the first year due to a lack of medical advancement. In addition, the babies that passed one year mark most likely will survive.

In this first birthday celebration, there’s a fortune-telling ceremony known as doljalbi (돌잡이).

Doljabi is a game where the child is placed in front of a table filled with unique objects representing their future. Back then, Koreans believed that the child’s choice would determine their future.

Here are some everyday objects in the Doljabi ceremony:

  • Money: Wealthy person
  • Pencil: Teacher
  • Sports Goods: Athlete
  • Camera: Journalist
  • Medicine: Doctor

3. Hwangap (환갑) - 60th Year Korean Birthday Traditions

korean birthday traditions

Credit to paulinepark

Hwangap 환갑 is the Korean birthday tradition for the 60th birthday. The 60th birthday celebrations marked an individual’s transition from active roles to retirement status in society.

Before the mid-1960s Korea, hwangap served as a sign of longevity due to the short life expectancy, so many Koreans hosted big celebrations for this special Korean birthday.

However, In modern Korea, more people skip hwangap and move to the 70th (chilsoon) or the 80th (palsoon) celebration due to longer life expectancy and late retirement.

Chilsun (칠순) and Palsun (팔순) - 70th and 80th Korean Birthday Traditions

korean birthday traditions

Credit to etsy

Many modern Koreans move on from Hwangap to Chilsun (칠순) and Palsun (팔순) birthday celebrations.

Chilsun and Palsun refer to the 70th and 80th birthday celebrations. Koreans host huge events for this special birthday with many ceremonial activities.

Traditional Korean families still observe special Korean Birthday traditions during Chilsun and Palsun such as;

  • The eldest son delivers ceremonial dishes and wine to the father.
  • The guests bow down to show respect to the host.
  • This birthday celebration is usually filled with rice cakes, fruits, meats, and wine.

In this Korean birthday tradition, Koreans will take a chance to show honor and love to the elders and show gratitude for their sacrifices.

Sum Up

Koreans have a lot of special way to celebrate birthday that perpetually remind them of their culture and traditions.

Knowing these korean birthday traditions will help you make a good impression in front of your Korean friends and family.

These are all I can share about Korean birthday traditions. Do you know about any of these korean birthday traditions? Or maybe you have another traditions you observe? Let me know in the comment sections below!

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korean birthday traditions
korean birthday traditions

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