Hi everyone! We celebrated Baby D’s 100 days this past weekend and I wanted to share with you some photos and details about this special event in the Korean culture. A baby’s 100 days, also called baekil is an age old Korean tradition that most Korean American families celebrate until this day because it carries a special meaning in a child’s life.
Why Do Koreans Celebrate 100 Days?
100 days is a special milestone in the Korean culture because in the olden days, many babies didn’t survive past this day. Because Koreans believed the first 100 days to be a time of full recovery for the mom and building immunity for the baby, babies were kept inside the home away from public eye until their 100th day. Therefore, the 100th day symbolizes the end of the delicate newborn stage when he or she is finally old enough to “greet” his or her guests. The guests in turn, bring cash gifts and gold and bless the child with well wishes for health, happiness, wisdom, prosperity and long life.
Although Korean babies are no longer kept inside the home for this long (but not without restrictions. You can read my postpartum post for more details), 100 days remain to be a wonderful family event that brings generations together in celebration of a new life.
On this day, celebratory food is served including sweet white rice cake that is passed out and enjoyed by everyone as a way to “spread” health, love and prosperity for the child. In Korean, hundred (baek) also means white, which is why white rice cake is symbolic of this event. Traditionally this sweet rice cake (or baeksulgi) is passed out to one hundred people. We passed it out to everyone who was present including grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.
On this day, celebratory food is served including sweet white rice cake that is passed out and enjoyed by everyone as a way to “spread” health, love and prosperity for the child. In Korean, hundred (baek) also means white, which is why white rice cake is symbolic of this event. Traditionally this sweet rice cake (or baeksulgi) is passed out to one hundred people.
100 Days Table Decor
1. Name Signage from Red Letter Calligraphy
I kept the 100 days table pretty simple this time because I didn’t have much time for DIY projects. Instead of trying to do too much, for I knew this would drive me insane, I decided on a minimalist decor and only put what is absolutely needed. I also decided to use white roses, which parallels the purity and “whiteness” of the event. (Remember how hundred also means white in Korean?)
The only detail I splurged on is the gold name signage purchased through Red Letter Day. The owner Jane did a wonderful job in creating this name signage that I plan to use for Baby D’s one year celebration as well (another important tradition in the Korean culture). When not in use for the events, I plan to hang it in his nursery. Three uses in one name plate…not bad right? 😉
She gave me three calligraphy options and I chose number 2. What do you think? I personally think number 2 looks great with his name. You can purchase your own custom signage and lettering products here. Be sure to tell her you found her through my blog!
2. 100 Banner And Felt Crown From Little Love Lane
I also purchased the 1-0-0 banner from Little Love Lane on Etsy. I requested black felt crown with matching banner with the numbers 1 0 0 for 100th day. The owner was so sweet and she even rushed shipped for me because I needed it before the weekend. Planning ahead is so hard when you have three children! I would highly recommend her shop for birthday crowns and banners for babies and kids. There are so many cute choices and colors, you should definitely check it out for your next event or photoshoot.
3. The rest: Balloons, flowers, frames, sweet rice cake
If you’re familiar with Korean tradition, you would know that the main head table is a very important part of the celebration. Traditionally what you put on the table is symbolic, such as photos, colorful fruits, different colored dishes, favorite toys, even items like yarn for long life. This time I skipped everything else and focused on the basics: balloons, flowers, two photos, a banner and sweet rice cake.
The balloons are from Party City, flowers are from the local market (Costco for roses, Albertsons for green fillers), and two matching frames are from Home Goods, a red tag item for $5 each. The sweet rice cake costs $40 and can be purchased at any local Korean bakery. They can add any writing with cocoa powder on top.
In essence, the 100 days celebration means “we survived.” We survived the pregnancy, the labor, the postpartum recovery, the around the clock feedings, many sleepless nights (well, that’s not over yet), the demands of taking care of a newborn and the reality of adding another child to the mix.
Similarly, Baby D survived swimming his way to burrow himself inside my egg (a miracle!), growing in my womb for 10 months (another miracle!), entering this world and growing into a big, healthy boy he is today. What a blessed milestone for both of us!
If you’ve been following my motherhood journey on my blog, you would know that I never planned to have a third child. You can read more about this period of contemplation here. I was never one of those moms who thought of herself as capable of handling more than two kids. In all honesty, I barely survived mothering two children and struggled with postpartum depression which you can read more about here.
When I first discovered I was pregnant, one of my biggest fears was coming down with postpartum depression again because that experience was truly heartbreaking and traumatic for me. I had to be careful and really watch my body and mind because I knew I couldn’t let it happen again with three kids. So this 100 days celebration was especially meaningful for me because it’s now safe to say I’m PPD free this time around.
I’m so thankful we survived the most intense and delicate time and that we are together happier and healthier than ever. There are so many things that can go wrong during any pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum period and we survived it without any major problem. We did it—- and I can’t wait to see what awaits us as a family of five.
And this, is some of many things Koreans celebrate on a baby’s 100th day. The older I get, the more I appreciate Korean ancestors’ wisdom and wit.
As I look at my son who came into my life as a total surprise, I now understand why they say unexpected gifts are the best gifts. There are so many things he has done for me in the mere 100 days since he entered this world, but the most important is this: he grew my heart. I never knew I can love so hard. And this isn’t love reserved for only him, it’s love for others, for the entire humanity.
Today he spends most of his time sleeping, eating, smiling, occasionally crying and sucking his two fingers like this. He discovered his two fingers this past week and it’s the cutest thing. He is my easiest baby of the three and SUCH A JOY to be around. He is perfect in every way and I’m so blessed to be his mother.
I once thought having more children means losing my womanliness. You know, the extra weight, the saggy skin, falling hair, changing breasts and hips and other things you can never get back. Now I see having more children means you are a woman with the ability to love harder than anyone else in your surrounding. You can choose to feel less of a woman because of all the imperfect qualities that come with having more kids, or you can choose to seek real beauty in motherhood like I have.
If you’re on the fence about having another child, ask yourself this: Are you ready to grow your heart? Answer that first, then answer the rest. It’s perhaps the most important question one should ask before choosing to have another child.
I wish I knew this years before but I’m certain everything happens at the right time. As ancient Eastern wisdom tells us, the teacher steps in when the student is ready to learn.
So what do you think about the 100 days celebration? Would you find such tradition meaningful as well?
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