Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy 3rd(4th) Birthday Thomas!

The happy 3/4 year old opening a gift!

In South Korea when you are born you are generally considered to be 1 year old. So when we went to a local kid's cafe to celebrate Thomas' 3rd birthday, they put a "4" on the cake to reflect his age in Korea. Luckily he knows to answer that he is 3 in English, 4 in Korean but it was confusing for a lot of people! Hahaha..
East Asian Age Reckoning - Korea

Koreans generally refer to their age in units called sal (살), using Korean numerals in ordinal form. Thus, a person is one sal during the first calendar year of life, and ten sal during the tenth calendar year.

The 100th-day anniversary of a baby is called baegil (백일), which literally means "a hundred days" in Korean, and is given a special celebration, marking the survival of what was once a period of high infant mortality. The first anniversary of birth named dol (돌) is likewise celebrated, and given even greater significance. Koreans celebrate their birthdays,[10] even though every Korean gains one 'sal' on New Year's Day.[11] Because the first year comes at birth and the second on the first day of the lunar New Year, a child born, for example, on December 29 (of the lunar calendar) will reach two years of age on Seolnal (Korean New Year) , when they are only days old in western reckoning.[12]

In modern Korea the traditional system is most often used, mistakenly even when talking to non-Koreans. The international age system is referred to as "man-nai" (만나이) in which "man" (만) means "full"[13] or "actual", and "nai" meaning "age".[11][14] For example, man yeol sal means "full ten years", or "ten years old" in English. The Korean word dol means "years elapsed", identical to the English "years old", but is only used to refer to the first few birthdays. Cheotdol or simply dol refers to the first Western-equivalent birthday, dudol refers to the second, and so on.

The Korean Birthday Celebrations by the lunar calendar is called eumnyeok saeng-il (음력 생일, 陰曆生日) and yangnyeok saeng-il (양력 생일, 陽曆生日) is the birthday by Gregorian calendar.

For official government uses, documents, and legal procedures, the Western age system is used. Regulations regarding age limits on alcohol and tobacco use, as well as the age of consent, are all based on the Western system (man-nai).

This system can be pretty confusing, so I always stick with just my Western age. What woman really wants to be a year or two older? Hahaha...

We're coming up on the baegil (백일) for Graham and I plan on doing it traditional style this time, especially since Grandma will be visiting us for the first time ever!

Here are some pictures from the 3rd/4th birthday! Enjoy!

The cafe served rice, salad, pork cutlet, chicken nuggets, french fries and orange juice for all the kids.

The Cafe supplied an MC for the party. Thomas got to sit up front and be celebrated by his friends!The MC released a confetti bomb that thrilled the whole crowd!

The lovely photos were courtesy of our friend Shane Lee of the blog Family Lee Together!
Thanks Shane!


  1. I so agree with you. I can't stand the Korean age thing, I don't know if I am a year older or 2 years older. And on the Korean medicine it'll say 3 years - does that mean 3 years Korean age?

    In Taiwan all birthdays start from 1911, so I was born in 77 but in Taiwan I was born in 66@@

    What do you mean you are doing a traditional dol for G? A big one or a small home one?^^

  2. I think you should say Shane took the pics, a little credit would make him happy^^

  3. Sarah ive found your blog! and Fauna's too :) How exciting. I used to have a blog with a huge readership back when i was still child-less and running the streets like a psycho. (www.gracieisthebestok.blogspot.com)

    But now ill just live vicariously through you guys so hope u update regularly!! btw i just love graham so gorgeous....

  4. So this is why my mom gives me a confusing answer for her age! Haha... I won't remind her that she's a year older in Korea. That probably won't go over very well ;)