Little Guy is about to turn 100 days old, and we are going to celebrate something called okuizome (お食い初め). This is a small, but important celebration to mark the day when a baby turns 100 days old. In the old days,1 babies often died,2 so reaching 100 days was a hopeful sign that the baby would be healthy and live a full life.
We celebrated okuizome with Princess when she was 100 days old. Her grandmother (my mother-in-law), had sent us some stones from a Shinto shrine in Japan, and my wife cooked a baked snapper (tai 鯛) which we pretend to feed baby. The ritual is to touch a pair of chopsticks to the blessed stones, then touch the babies mouth. Also, I think we fed Princess a small, small piece of the snapper too. Later, we sent the stones back to Japan, since we only borrowed them.
Other items often eaten during okuizome:
- sekihan – Red bean rice. This is often eaten during celebrations in Japan. We had it during our wedding too.
- umeboshi – Pickled plum, a personal favorite.
- suimono – A light, clear broth with some garnish in it.
So what about Little Guy? Well, here’s a funny coincidence: his 100 day celebration is on the exact same day as our 10th wedding anniversary. We decided to move the anniversary one day later (the 19th), so we’ll celebrate this 100th day on the 18th. So, as of writing, we’re scrambling to get the ingredients together, and this time we have our own stones we can use.
Recently, my wife talked with our Korean friend, “H”, who had a baby just after us. In Korea, they also celebrate 100 days as baekil janchi (백일잔치). On this day, proud Korean parents celebrate with friends and family. People often eat a special Korean rice cake called baekseolgi (백설기, 白雪糕).
Additionally though, Korean culture celebrates the 1st year of birth called Doljanchi (돌잔치). Doljanchi is a huge feast for the whole family with lots of tradition. “H” told my wife how they do a kind of “fortune-telling” ritual where they place different items in front of the baby like a brush, money, etc. Whichever one the baby picks up, that predicts what kind of life that baby lives (Wikipedia has a good article on this too). So H will be flying back to Korea for the 1st year birthday.
Anyhow, here’s to the health of both of our babies.
1 I would also like to remind readers that there are still many children at risk even now.
2 Recently on the BBC, I read a statistic that in the Roman Empire, the average lifespan was 40 years. Some people reading this would probably be dead by now.