By KIM HWANG
ST. PAUL (July 6, 2012) — The beauty of Korean families is captured in cultural and traditional milestones, which are shared in celebrations with family and friends.
I had the honor of attending a Korean tradition known as the, One Hundred Day Celebration referred to as Baek-il. Jong Hwa Ra and Dae Sung Ra, the proud grand parents, both who were both born in Seoul, Korea hosted the special One Hundred Day party for their granddaughter Mila, daughter who turned 100 days old. Milla’s parents, Jason and Hana Ra-Adams, were there to greet a loving out pour of friends and family excited to celebrate their third child’s Baek-il.
Hana and Jason have three children, Henry who is the oldest and was born on March 4, 2008. Miles was born on November 9, 2009. Finally, Milla Grace Jin Hee Adams, the youngest sister was born on March 22, 2012.
Upon entering the family home, shoes gathered the entryway, since Korean families are accustom to taking off their shoes as a sign of respect to the host. Tables of Korean food were beautifully displayed and guests marveled at the Korean home filled with Asian antique furniture, art and photos transporting you half way around the globe as if you were in the east.
The fanciful feast included traditional Korean dishes such as bulgogi, Ddeok, Haoeddek (rice cakes which symbolize longevity), japchae, fruit and of course plenty of delicious Kimchee.
The savory and incredibly popular dishes were prepared by Hana’s mother Jong Hwa Ra who owns a tailoring shop in South Minneapolis, “Anna’s Taylors,” named after her daughter Hana, mother of the daughter being celebrated. Jong Hwa Ra has two brothers and sisters in Korea, but left when Seoul when she married because her husband is both American and Korean.
At the time she married, they both felt shunned by both the Korean and Americans for being a mixed race and ethnic couple, so they chose to come to the United States in hopes of starting a family and raising children. It was difficult for Jong Hwa Ra to leave her mother because she stated, “As a child I was very quiet and shy and I didn’t like to go outside very much.” “Now, as a tailor, I love to mingle with the people in Minnesota and my customers and serve them as a tailor!”
Jong Hwa Ra began her business in South Minneapolis almost sixteen years ago, which she is going very well.
Besides her small business, Jong Hwa Ra’s biggest pride and joy in life is her family. She remembers fondly the many, “One Hundred Day” celebrations that she attended in Korea. She explained that it wasn’t that long ago when Korean babies didn’t live to be one hundred days old. Many Koreans didn’t have enough medicine and after the Korean war.
The death rate of children before one hundred days increased significantly. Consequently, many Korean parents began to keep their babies in doors and away from all visitors and relatives until they were one hundred days old to ensure they were strong and in good health. At one hundred days, the celebration party started. During this event the Korean baby wears a traditional Hanbok and is seated before a table where the 100-day baby is given the opportunity to choose from a pile of items set before her.
Legend has it that whatever she chooses will result in a life of success related to the item. For example, if the Korean baby chooses a book, she may become a scholar.
Jong Hwa Ra and Da Sung Ra’s children, Hana (daughter) and Peter (son), along with, husband Jason (son-in-law) are proud to carry on the 100-Day Korean tradition. Mrs. Ra stated with a smile, “Korean families respect all people, value education, share- there is a lot of sharing, encourage their children to go to college, work and study.” She further emphasized how happy she was to celebrate the health of her granddaughter Milla and the family’s happiness with everyone on the, “One Hundred Day Celebration.”