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You will get something like this which will allow you to eat at the wedding

Rory and I had a bit of a fun argument last night. We were looking at options for wedding invitations and the websites we were looking at also were selling food tickets as well. I was a bit confused about this. Rory explained that it is customary for guests to receive food tickets when they turn in their wedding gift (money stuffed into a small envelope.) While I knew that money is supposed to be given instead of toasters and glassware I didn’t understand the whole ticket thing. As long as there are no wedding crashers, we should have a good sense of how many people will come to the wedding and can just let people eat without having to give them tickets in exchange for their gift. Rory explained that it is a way to keep track of how many people are eating and because it is what everyone is used to doing. Who am I to argue with that?

This is what Rory and I will look like at the wedding (minus the whiskers)

Now I received a slightly related link to a New York Times article about the tradition of giving money at Korean weddings and it interests me further to find out that the tradition is to open the envelope in front of guests and mark how much they paid in a ledger. I find this to be a bit insensitive and slightly unfair but I don’t think it’s done to purposely shame people into giving more, it’s just a way of doing the whole wedding present thing in a simple, quick, efficient and open way.

I find the article interesting mostly because of the idea that some people were using the wedding ceremonies of politicians and their families as an opportunity to bribe them with large cash gifts. I don’t expect anything similar to happen at our wedding but I think Rory and I agree that we can be bribed pretty easy ๐Ÿ˜‰

Red envelopes with money are the standard gift at traditional Korean weddings

Here is a link explaining some of the Korean gift giving customs. If you have any questions, feel free to ask us.

 

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this is traditional wedding box and some of it's contents. We will do a bigger post on this later.

In Korea marriage isn’t just between a couple, it is also the marriage of two families. Yai mul is how you call all the wedding presents that are exchanged between the two families. Jamie and I are going to go look for some diamond jewelery today that we will give to my mom when we visit in December. Normally this would go into the Ham ํ•จ, the wedding chest that the groom presents the bride’s family. It is also filled with fine silks (์˜ˆ๋‹จ) that the wedding party uses for the wedding day and a formal letter that states the groom’s family’s acceptance of the bride into their family.

We are breaking a little with the tradition by giving my mom the jewelery ahead of time. Normally it is a pearl set, a diamond set and a watch given for the father. These are normally all presented just before the wedding but for convenience we will give them a bit separately.

The actual Korean word for marriage when referring to a girl is Shi jip Kan Da (์‹œ์ง‘๊ฐ„๋‹ค). This literally means ‘going to the groom’s house and becoming their family’. This is why the groom’s family presents such lavish gifts. It is in thanks to my parents for raising me to be such a great wife to Jamie :p

We’ll be sure to share pictures when we get back from the Gold and Diamond park.

Korean Shamans

I like this pic. There are a few Korean iconic symbols that maybe I'll let Rory explain. ๐Ÿ™‚

When Buddhist priests and temples were prohibited in the walled towns three centuries ago, anything like a national faith disappeared from Korea, and it is only through ancestral worship and a form ofย  shamanism that Koreans were able to fill that human need for spiritual guidance.

Though Korea is now more religiously diverse (see Korean evangelist Reverend Moon Sun-myung and photo below from his recent marriage of 20,000 people) Shamanism is still a very common practice and the blessings of shamans are still sought after for everything from taking a new job to, in our case, deciding if we are a good match, making sure we don’t have any opposing energies, advising on the best possible date to get married and predicting the success of our marriage. This is decided not only on our Chinese zodiac signs but also on major recent personal events, for example we shouldn’t be married if there is recent death in the family or on the same month as our parents, etc.

Mass Wedding

This isn't how Rory and I will be married. It seems a little generic...

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The process is kinda good because so many factors are out of our control that it actually takes some stress off of us during the planning process. It is proving to be a bit problematic for some of our friends and family though, as we tried to have a fall wedding and told people to plan as such, but in the end we are now marrying in May. (Sorry if this caused you strife) Technically it is out of our hands and hopefully this will explain why.

The Korean Shaman interprets the Chinese sexagenary cycle, a 60 year astrological and elemental cycle, and also takes into account other religious, spiritual and personal history to heal, predict and council on major life decisions and events such as political elections, divorce, employment and marriage. As far as their involvement in our marriage (so far), the shaman based their interpretation primarily on the scientific 60 year cycle which maps the earthly and heavenly positive and negative energies to predict the best possible date for the wedding. It is also the same process which will suggest when the children should be conceived and whether the marriage will be happy and healthy. Sounds a bit frightening really.

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The Korean word for Shaman is 'mudang' ๋ฌด๋‹น

It’s an interesting calendar based on the Heavenly Elements ๆœจ (wood), ็ซ (fire), ๅœŸ (earth), ้‡‘ (metal) and ๆฐด (water). Each of these elements is further divided into positive and negative energies (yin and yang – but negative isn’t necessarily bad, but more like a battery has two poles). Yin and yang are tied to the moon and the sun, female and male respectively. The five elements multiplied by the two energies make the 10 possible Heavenly Stems of the calendar. These correspond to a repeated cycle of ten years in the lunar calendar and are paired with the repeating 12 animals of the more commonly known Chinese zodiac (Earthly branches). However, there are corresponding hours each day for each animal as well, which further determines personal traits of each individual. It is a bit complicated, which is why people probably consult shamans in the first place.

The combination of 12 animals and 10 elements repeat every 60 years. It’s interesting because apparently the 61st birthday (hwangap) is a significant milestone in a person’s life as pre-industrialized Koreans rarely made it to this age but also because it means you have lived an entire cycle. Rory’s dad turns 61 in April and so we are expecting a big party in advance of our own celebration.

korean shaman

Shamans in Korea are almost always women.This one is performing a ritual dance.

Hopefully this explains some things about how we came about the date for the wedding and why it took so long to nail down. There are plenty more interesting Korean traditions and rituals though so keep visiting the blog to learn more.

By the way, according to the Shaman, I am metal monkey.

Interesting extras:

Shamanism – NY Times article

Fact – There are an estimated 300,000 shamans, or one for every 160 South Koreans, according to the Korea Worshipers Association, which represents shamans.

Korean Shamanism

Performing a ritual

China_24_cardinal_directionsThis is a quick post to let everyone know Rory and I have will be married on May 2, 2010 in Seoul, South Korea.

After taking a good hard look at the energies that swirl about this great universe, the Korean Shaman has suggested only a couple possible dates for us to be married.ย ย  This was one of two possible dates in the lunar calendar that represent the best luck, the best timing and the best weather for a wedding. We chose May because in Seoul, the blossoms will be in full bloom, the sun warm, the air cool and of course the kimchi spicy. It’s also because we want to be married as soon as we can.

We are very hopeful that all of our friends and family can attend but understand that this might not be possible for everyone.

Please keep following this Blog for all the relevant details around the wedding but also to share in our adventure. We will be updating the blog with interesting details about Korean culture, the traditional Korean wedding process, specific details relating to logistics for those attending as well as documenting our own experiences. For those of you who use Twitter, you can follow updates through our account @roryandjamie.

Please feel free to share this blog with anyone who would be interested to follow us on our wedding journey.

This is the first of many posts as we document our journey to Korea to be married in traditional Korean fashion. Please join us and invite your friends. For those of you planning to attend, you may wish to subscribe to the RSS feed as we will be updating this with all relevant information as well as the fun and interesting bits relating to Korean customs and a photojournal of our experiences. Come fall with us…