Meanwhile, back in Accordion City…
My nephew and sister’s youngest son, Ryan Joseph deVilla-Choi, turned
100 days old on Thursday. Ryan’s dad, my brother-in-law Richard, is
Korean, so we observed the Korean tradition of celebrating Baek-il, the
100 day anniversary of a baby’s birth.
The man of the hour!
The family gathered at my sister’s house, complete with Auntie Beth,
who’s visiting from the Phillippines, Mom and Dad, whom the boys refer
to as “Dodo” and “Yoya” (their pronunciations of “Lolo” and “Lola”,
Tagalog for “grandpa” and “grandma”) and Richard’s parents, who flew in
from Vancouver for the big event. The boys call them “Haroboji” and
“Halmonyi” (Korean for “grandma” and “grandma”).
From left to right: Nico, Ryan and Aidan.
We had a delicious Korean dinner of kimchi (spicy Korean cabbage),
galbi (barbecued beef), bin dae duk (vegetable pancakes), jap chae
(clear noodles) and Chateauneuf du Pape (okay, that’s not Korean — we deVillas and Chois believe
you can both pay homage to your own tradition and do the vive la difference thing). Richard’s folks certainly know how to cook up a tasty Korean meal.
If you’ve never had Korean food before, you’re missing out on a meat-a-licious treat.
Dinner was followed by the traditional cake served on Baek-il: baeksolgi,
a very dense cake made of steamed rice. Something along the lines
of “Happy 100 Days!” is spelled out in Korean on top of the cake using
I’m not all that keen on the baeksolgi — it’s pretty bland
and almost as dense as depleted uranium — but I gladly finished the large slice that Richard’s mom gave me to be polite. However, I will always show up at an event where Richard’s parents are making Korean barbecue.
Nico, Dad and Aidan watch the 100-day cake.
Baek-il is one of two Korean traditions celebrating the passage of a
baby from one age to another. In addition to celebrating a baby’s 100th
day of life, another very important birthday is the first birthday,
which the Koreans call Dol. Both traditions stem from “the bad old
days” when medicine and hygiene weren’t as advanced and the rate of
infant mortality was much higher. Making it past the first 100 days was
a sign that you’d live to see your first birthday, and making it past
your first birthday was a sign that you’d at least make it out of
Frustrated with the lack of milk, Ryan takes matters into his own hands.
Congratulations, Ryan! Happy Baek-il!