Henry's First Birthday

Al and I had a lovely weekend in New York City with his brother Carl, our sister-in-law Tris, and their baby Henry, who turned one on Sunday. Turning one is a big deal in Korean culture, so there was a good-sized family gathering at a Korean restaurant on Saturday night to celebrate.

I can't remember the name of the ceremony that preceeded dinner, but for it Henry was dressed in a traditional first-birthday hanbok (parts of which were also worn by Al and Carl on their first birthdays) and seated behind a table that featured a pile of rice, a spool of thread, a pen, a book, and a ten dollar bill. As Al and Carl's father was explaining that we were to observe which one of the items Henry picked up, and the significance of each item, Henry reached for the book: a silver-covered copy of The Elements of Style, wrapped in gold curling ribbon. (Tris later confessed that she weighted the odds a little by wrapping the book in the gold ribbon. :) By the time Mr. Cho concluded his introductory speech with, "and now we will watch what Henry picks up," Henry had returned the book to its place and reached for the pen. "Ah, the pen!" Mr. Cho exclaimed. "He will be a writer." Of course, everyone's eyes had been glued on Henry as Mr. Cho was talking, so everyone except Mr. Cho had seen Henry go for the book first. This apparently means that Henry will be a scholar. Surely a scholar must write, however (at leat, he must if he wants to attain tenure in the American University system), so the pen and the book were not entirely inconsistent choices.

That was basically the end of the ceremony; all that remained was to have all the family members photographed with Henry in his place of honor (and of course, to eat a delicious Korean dinner followed by exotic sorbets and ice creams and an incredibly rich and elegant chocolate and vanilla mousse cake). By the time Henry had sat for his last photograph, he had picked up and played with every item except the rice (and I think this was mainly because the grains were too small for him to grab). I think the ceremony is all about what he picks up *first*, but if first isn't the only thing that counts, I think it's safe to assume that Henry will be a well-rounded individual.

henry in his hanbok

Posted by Lori in random at 5:58 AM on July 14, 2003


Henry is very cute!

Posted by: Simon at July 18, 2003 2:47 PM

I forget to mention that Henry is my godson's name as well.

Posted by: Simon at July 18, 2003 2:48 PM

He's charming, too. Animated, but not noisy, and really sweet.

Posted by: Lori at July 19, 2003 4:55 PM

How beautiful!!!

We have a 5 month old son adopted from Korea and I am madly researching the traditions for the Tol celebration for his first birthday - great to hear about your celebrations!


Posted by: Melanie at July 27, 2003 5:37 PM

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