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Korean Wedding Traditions and Customs

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Before the wedding takes place, a bride must participate in a traditional introduction ceremony where she is accepted into the groom’s family.

Ducks and geese are animals that are known to mate for life and so in the olden days, the groom would give his mother in law a live goose to represent his fidelity, but now the live goose has been replaced by a wooden one. In Korean culture these animals are the perfect symbols of fidelity and are incorporated into weddings.

Cranes also represent a long life and so they are usually incorporated into the bride’s sash. The bride wears two dresses which are said to be from the noble class, a light green wonsam and an elaborate hwarrot or flower robe. Underneath, she wears a traditional robe. On her head, she wears a black gem-studded cap and she wears white socks with embroidered shoes. Her make-up is simple with three red nickel-sized circles to ward off evil spirits. The groom wears the dress of nobility as well, and it is made of dark green damask with embroidered auspicious symbols in gold and a tall black cap headdress made of silk.

The wedding ceremony takes place in front of a table and one important part is the sharing of a special white wine (jung jong) which is poured from cups made from two halves of a gourd made by the bride’s mom. The bride and groom sip from their own cups, mix the wine, and then pour it out and sip again as a wedding vow.

Another ceremony which is only attended by close family members is when the new wife offers the in-laws dried dates and jujubes that represent children. They offer the bride tea and at the end of the ceremony they toss dates and chestnuts at her while she attempts to catch them with her skirt.

Finally, there is a noodle banquet called kook soo sang where Korean sake is taken in shots, while wheat noodle soup is eaten to wish the couple a long, happy life.

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