Friday, April 1, 2011

Birthdays

Hello,

  Today we are going to talk about something that I thought was an absolute phenomenon in Korea. It made no since to me why Korea put such a high importance on Birthdays. But lets go through a little back story first.
  
  All of Korea uses the Lunar calendar, not many changes other then New Years is on Feb. 24th - 26th (the third full moon from the solar new year Jan 1st.) The holiday is called Seolnal.  I spoke with some Koreans telling me of an old tradition that Koreans don't actually "age" on their birthday, but instead everyone ages one year on Seonal. Something important to note that in Korea, when you are born, you are born as 1 year old, as opposed to America where you are 0. 

   Enough back story, now for mine. So in South Korea I found out that your first birthday is the most important, even though you can't remember it. I was invited to someones first b-day, along with I'd say 500 people. I never saw the parents who actually invited me as there were so many quest. And it's important for everyone to bring gifts. The child in question is usually dressed in these really fancy ceremonial type ropes. I was told this is very common and how all first b-days are held, I couldn't believe it, it is one of their biggest celebrations. 
      
  What about the rest of your birthdays? Good question. As a teacher I was able to take part in all of my students birthdays held by the school. And each and every time I was surprised by what I saw. It was pressured heavily on the family to throw a party at the school for their child. And so what would happen is the parents would bring in literally mounds and mounds of food. Far more then a class of twelve six year olds could ever eat.  Some would bring in a Mountain bouquet of Fruit that almost reached the ceiling, some parents bought 3 tier cakes you'd see at a wedding. After my students parents learned I liked fried chicken, they would bring me baskets of it (no complaints). But why do they go through all of this food when it can't be eating. It's easy, to show off. Koreans lives revolve around money, they love the stuff, and the more money you have the better off you are in life. So parents in order to look as if they were well off and successful, would shower food and gifts at their child's b-day party. They are actually so worried of looking poor in front of others they will spend their money simply to say, no I'm not. 
    
   It's sad but true, I've learned that Koreans are always worried about what others will think of them, almost like American Christians. They judge everyone but hate to be judged, and will say its bad to judge others. 


Peace,
Wintermute



25 comments:

  1. Sounds like a super sweet 15!

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  2. I never knew koreans were born at 1, I knew either muslims or hindu's are. I remember this causing havoc in my primary school in london when the headmaster realised he had assigned all the kids to year groups based on age not date of birth.

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  3. ...more bad news; it's really all the same,tho. S. Koreans and American christians by no means hold corners on the hypocracies of judgmentalism. Hell, i don't like being judged either

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  4. korea and america: not so different after all!

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  5. I'm truly inspired by your blog! Great to read once again. Keep this up!

    - Pappa Püllï

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  6. Your work on this blog is great! keep it up!

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  7. That's crazy! 500 people for a one year old's birthday?

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  8. everyone is worried about what others think about them

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  9. Wow, that's really interesting, thanks for sharing that. I never would have heard about this otherwise.

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  10. I want to move to korea i love the concept of how to rule

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  11. Great insights in korean way of life. Truly inspired by your entries.

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  12. I thought your first birthday in Korea was the day you were born.

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  13. I'm not surprised at how they judge others but don't want to be judged themselves. It's like this all over the world, and revolves around one thing: gossip. People love to talk about other people to make themselves feel better, but are so insecure that they see it as almost a crime if anyone talks bad about them.

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  14. 500 people? Man I only have a couple friends over on my birthdays ;_;

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  15. arent alot of koreans christians?

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  16. lol who doesn't hate to be judged

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  17. Was invited on my neighbor's son first birthday. Cool stuff, +1

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  18. Very cool post! Thanks for this :)

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  19. Interesting Korean information!

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  20. I always learn a little when I read your posts.

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  21. I would never have guessed Koreans cared about money so much!

    It is like American Christians! People need to stop judging everyone! Live and let live.

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  22. I knew a little bit about this, but reading it from someone who has experienced it firsthand is on another level... :D

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