Saturday, February 11, 2012

Korean Birthdays: One-Hundred-Day celebrations and Hwan gap

In Korea it is believed that one of the main roles in life is to produce children for their ancestors. Couples will invest enormous amounts of time and money in fertility treatments if they are not conceiving within the desired or expected time frame. For these reasons, a child's birthday is considered very important in Korean traditions and customs. On the day of birth, the newborn is considered one year old and will turn two the following Lunar New Year. 

An important celebration regarding the child's birthday is known as the One-Hundred-Day celebration. Other than close maternal relatives, no one visits the new mother for at least 21 days after the baby's birth. The first 100 days of the child's life are considered a very critical and fragile time, so it is important to keep the baby safe and protected. After 100 days, the child can be taken outside and introduced to friends and neighbors. A 100-day party is thrown where close relatives and friends are invited to celebrate this joyous time. Traditionally, gifts are not given at the baby's birth, but if one of the parents or a close friend gives a silver chopstick or spoon set is seen as an appropriate gesture. 

With the child's first birthday comes much celebration and tradition. The child will be dressed in traditional Korean clothes and the boy wears the hood custom for unmarried men and the girl wears make-up. The most important aspect of the celebration is when the child is seated before a table and presented with various items such as rice, cake, money, books, pencils, a ruler, a needle and thread, and a bow and arrow. He or she is encouraged to choose one of these items and it is believed that the item the child chooses will determine his or her future

If the child selects:
-The bow and arrow: the child will become a warrior or have a military career
-The needle and thread: the child will live a long life 
-The book, pencil, or brush: the child will be a successful scholar 
-The ruler, needle, or scissors: the child will be talented with his/her hands
-The knife: the child will be a talented cook
-The money or rice: the child will be very wealthy
-The cake: the child will become a government official 

Another critical age for celebration is the turning of sixty. According to the Lunar calendar, there are 60 names for years and once you reach the age of 60 you return to your birth year. The 60th birthday, known as 'Hwan gap", is a time for grand celebration and festivities.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Japanese Birthday Celebrations: Schichi Go San, Ga no iwai

According to Japanese beliefs, certain ages are considered unlucky while others are perceived worthy of great celebrationDuring the "unlucky" years, rituals are practiced in an attempt to drive away bad luck. It is customary in these unlucky years to visit temples and shrines to provide protection from harm. The birthday person should wear red to bring good health, vitality, and long life. Bad luck ages, or yakudoshi ages, are considered 25 and 42 for men and 19 and 33 for women. 

Another Japanese tradition, referred to as Schichi Go San, or the "Seven-Five-Three" Festival, is observed on November 15th of every year. On this day, 5 year old boys as well as 3 and 7-year-old girls, dress in kimonos and are blessed by a Shinto priest. This blessing is done to ensure the continued health and well-being of the child. It was once believed that at these ages the children were prone to bad luck and the blessings were to provide protection, but now the observance has become regarded at a momentous rite of passage. 

Ga no iwai is another Japanese rite of passage celebrated in order to pray for a long life. This tradition was brought to Japan from China, and originally celebrated once every ten years beginning at age 40. After the 16th century, ga no iwai has come to be celebrated with the turning of 60 followed by ages 70, 77, 80, 90, and 99.

Turning 88 has become quite popular because when written together the numbers resemble the character for rice, which symbolizes purity and goodness in the Japanese culture. Due to this, turning 88 has become a joyous and happy occasion. 

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

K-Pop Con launches, Wonder Girls on Teen Nick Feb 2

We often post about K-Pop over at Fujimini Island.  But so much is happening in K-Pop, that we decided to share here on ONCEKids as well!

This week has been a big week for K-Pop! Channel A has now introduced a new music program called K-Pop Con (korean pop concert). This week, they've brought on a collection of high-energy artists to display their talents to all K-pop fans. The show has broadcasted performances by groups such as Rainbow Pixie, Nine Muses, Fast Cat, BoM, and more. 

Our beloved Wonder Girls is releasing their first TV movie, 'The Wonder Girls', that will air on Teen Nick Thursday, February 2nd. 

Korean artist Se7en ended his long break in the music industry with the release of his new mini-album 'Se7en'. This  album features six tracks including hits such as "When I Can't Sing." Se7en is not the only artist making waves in the music industry. 

Miryo, the charismatic rapper from Brown Eyed Girls, has stepped out solo with her debut album, 'Miryo AKA Johoney'. The album consists of five tracks including songs like "Party Rock" and "I Love You, I Love You". Miryo proves her ability to change it up for the crowd with the variety of styles the album features.

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