Baby Sumi Celebrates First Birthday

Baby Sumi's First Birthday

Report from Mother

Sumi, the baby born to our North Korean refugee parents in December of 2012, is growing and thriving wonderfully. Recently, a photo and email arrived at our LFNKR offices reporting on Sumi’s first birthday celebration.

Here’s a link to the story of Sumi and her parents.

In the email, her parents mentioned their thankfulness for Sumi’s excellent health and told us they are especially thankful for her being born in Japan rather than in the hopelessness of North Korea. Their note overflows with words of love for Sumi.

This photo shows baby Sumi’s “Toruchanchi” ceremony, a tradition in both North and South Korea for celebrating a child’s first birthday. In times past, the death rate for babies and infants was high, so when the baby reached one year old, the parents would perform a ceremony in which they prayed for their child’s safe growth.

In “Toruchanchi,”a one-year-old baby wears a traditional Korean costume and eats mainly rice cake and fruits. Recently however, sweet cakes may be served instead.

At this birthday ceremony, several symbolic objects are laid out around the baby, who is then urged to pick up one. Traditionally, the object chosen by the baby is thought to forecast his or her future.

Typical objects include cash money, rice or rice cakes, books, pencils, ink brushes, knives, threads, bows, and dates or chestnuts. If the child picks up the cash money, rice or rice cake, this indicates that they will become rich. The books, pencils and ink brushes foretell a future as a scholar. A knife symbolizes a chef, the threads indicate longevity, the bow points to life as a soldier, and the dates or chestnuts symbolize the prosperity of descendants.

Recent years have seen some changes in the objects used. For example, you might find a microphone laid out, which would indicate a singer or a master of ceremonies. A gavel would point to life in the judiciary, a stethoscope a future as a doctor, and a mouse would suggest a career as a programmer.

And what did Baby Sumi choose? Why, she firmly grabbed the money – a 10,000-yen cash note, which is the largest denomination of Japanese money.
We love you, Baby Sumi and wish you all the happiness and success that your propitious choice suggests!