Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Two years older, and hopefully wiser

January first was everyone's birthday.

When a child is born in Korea, they are automatically considered one year old.  On January first of the following year, they turn two.  Even children born at the end of December who would be just days old in the US are considered two years old here.  Everyone else turns a year older on January first as well.  

Today one of my students asked me how old I was.  I begrudgingly said twenty eight, even though according to the US (and me!) I've only been twenty six for five months.  The adorable six year old (I guess she's seven now) also asked me what my Korean name was.  Too cute.  Each student and teacher at our school has an English name, but of course Koreans have a Korean name too.

Birthdays are celebrated here, they're just not viewed as the day people turn a year older.  Many of my students have also told me they have two birthdays.  One on the day they were born, and a second on the day their grandmother predicted they would be born.  Recognition is also given to one’s birthday in terms of the Lunar calendar.

If January first counts as another birthday, that’s four total.  That's a lot of birthdays.  Why not celebrate them all?

1 comment:

  1. I really love learning about all the Korean traditions and beliefs you write about. This one is very refreshing, everyone a year older on the same day. Thanks so much for sharing these!!