Koreans have many celebrations however the most prominent one for many families is Doljanchi. The reason is their adoration for their newborn and influence from Korean superstition.
What is Doljanchi
Doljanchi is a Korean First Birthday Party also commonly known as a Dol Party. It’s a tradition that is practiced by many Koreans in Korea and some Koreans outside of Korea.
Koreans in the past used to celebrate Doljanchi as a sign of gratitude because many babies were not fortunate enough to survive to the age of 1 due to famine, wars, and frequent predicaments. Families were invited, a feast was thrown, and the baby was gently passed around.
Doljanchi was a celebration but it was more than just a celebration. This celebration was also thrown to bless the baby with good fortune, long life, and an advantageous future. It could even be argued to be a ceremony to bless the baby more than a celebration because Koreans were extremely superstitious and truly believed the foods eaten at Doljanchi would grant long life and combat evil spirits, prayers given to deities would be heard, and Doljabi would bless their baby.
Although the primary reason to host a dol party may have changed in the present day, the same beliefs are held by many. You’ll find similar foods prepared, similar items for Doljabi, and a similar layout of the event.
Why do Korean celebrate Doljanchi
Indigenous Koreans and non-native Koreans may have different motives for hosting this celebration.
Indigenous Koreans may host Doljabi because it’s expected from their family and their society may encourage it. Indigenous Koreans may still believe in the superstitions that fueled Doljanchis such as the predictions of the baby’s future from Doljabi. Some may just do it purely out of enjoyment because it provides a structured theme for a baby’s first birthday.
Non-native Koreans likely have different motives. Often, non-native Koreans aren’t as connected to their native cultural roots than indigenous Koreans. Thus, non-native Koreans may primarily be motivated to host Doljanchi to introduce their baby to Korean culture and to actively practice ways to stay connected to their cultural roots while living in a culture that’s detached from Korea.
Where can you purchase Doljanchi items?
Doljanchi items are easily found in Korea because of pure economics – where there’s a demand, there’s a supply. Most non-native countries do not see a demand enough to justify a store to open a brick and mortar and carry inventory for customers who will be one-time clients. It’s difficult to find a store outside of Korea that will carry Doljabi items unless one goes to a city in the United States like Los Angeles where there’s a sizable Korean community.
With the adoption of ecommerce, platforms like Etsy have attracted handicrafts that can make almost anything the mind can conceive. Some of these creators are Korean and have found a small demand for Doljanchi items like Doljabi items and found that the profit margin is enough to incentivize them to create a store around Doljanchi.
Additionally, with the increase of ease in creating an online shop through superior user experience of content management systems like Shopify, many online stores have been popping up, and with a couple of refined marketing strategies, some of these online stores have seen great success even with a small demand that might be brushed off by giant corporations like Walmart.
However, some business owners capitalize where big corporations overlook and create an online business around a specific theme. Often known as niche stores, this business model has gained traction due to its profitability. Joteta is an upcoming Korean niche online store that executes this strategy well. They have found a niche that is Doljanchi products and has found a way to be right in front of the faces of the shoppers who are looking for Doljabi items.
Why is Doljanchi increasing in popularity?
The frequency of a Dol Party is increasing in countries like the United States because of the relative ease in acquiring Doljanchi items. There are specific items that must be acquired before the party can be thrown like Hanboks, Doljabi Banners, and Doljabi items.
Globalization has broken the commerce barrier between countries, South Korea and the United States in this context. With the ability to obtain the necessary items, throwing a Korean celebration has no longer become a hassle and hurdle.
With more Dol Parties thrown in the States, more people are being exposed to this tradition – even to Koreans who never entertained the thought of hosting a Korean themed birthday celebration for their newborn. Because of the fun nature of Doljabi, it’s easy for this Korean tradition to convince one who’s indifferent about Korean culture to host a Doljabi for their newborn.
With more awareness and unique entertainment, Doljanchi has become popular amongst Koreans in the United States which is supported by the increase of google searches of keywords closely associated with Doljanchi.
What makes Doljanchi fun?
For the host, Doljanchi is fun because of Doljabi. Doljabi is the tradition where babies are provided a selection of 8 items to pick and each item holds a unique prediction of the baby. By hosting Doljabi, parents can get a quick glimpse of the baby’s possible future and even more interestingly, the baby’s natural preference.
A Dol Party is fun for the guests because of the raffle that takes place. A Doljabi raffle is one where guests are asked to guess which baby they think the baby will choose in Doljabi. If the guests pick correctly, they are provided a prize. Everyone loves prizes, especially if the prize has utility like a $200 Amazon gift card.
Joteta provides Doljanchi items, but it’s important to note that their mission starts with Dol Parties and plans to vertically expand into other sectors outside of party entertainment.
Just like Amazon, platforms like the one mentioned are starting as a niche online store due to the profitable business model of such a store, but plans to expand vertically to stay resilient to market changes, changes in trends, and unexpected situations.
Humans are wired to become dissatisfied which drives new trends. Niche stores are dependent on trends and when something quickly becomes ‘unfashionable’ or ‘old’, niche online stores must quickly adapt by setting up a new niche or else they’ll see a rapid decline in revenue and dissipate like the trend.