Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Random story about Korean culture

Insert random photo here:


Ha! I was fermenting this idea for a blog post earlier today, and wanted to put in some random photo from my Blog Fodder file, when I found this photo of the kimchi that Dan made earlier this fall.

What is kimchi? It is pickled fermented spicy vegetable, usually a kid of cabbage. There are literally thousands of kinds of kimchi and probably lots of kimchi festivals in Korea.

I lived in Korea from August 2002 to September 2003. It took me something like ten months to come around to liking the taste of kimchi. Then felt I had to make up for lost time. If you like meat and fish, then Korean is culinary heaven. I *loved* the food there. It's usually fast, cheap, and easy.

But this is not a story about kimchi.

I was listening to a podcast when something reminded me of the Hundred Days ceremony. I will explain it here as I understood it, and it is very confusing so please bear with me.

It is custom for a child not to be given a name until it has reached 100 days of life. This is because, before public health and child mortality improved, there was often a good chance that the child might not live and therefore not need a name. This probably also impacted the attachment parents and the family had with the child.

Side note: knowing what we know now from clinical psychology and the need of infants to be held and loved, this may have been rather damaging, no?

So when the child did reach 100 days, it was a big deal and there was some celebration. I think one of the Korean teachers I worked with had a baby that hit 100 days when I was there. This was eight years ago now, and my memory is fading.

So when is the child's birthday? Here's where it gets more confusing. At some point along the line, someone thought it was a good idea if all Koreans celebrated their birthday on the same day: the first day of the (Korean/Chinese) new year. So take me, for example. I was actually born on March 23. But the Chinese new year wasn't until the following January or February, so according to one tradition, I turned one before I turned one. That is to say, on that new year, I turned one, and on March 23, I turned one again. Or was it the other way around? No, I think it's right. So according to this system, I would be turning 38 in January (or whenever the new year begins, I'm never sure), when I'll actually be turning 37 in March.

I bet this makes paperwork in this country a bureaucratic nightmare.

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