Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ancestral Rites

A couple of weeks ago I visited a co-teacher's house to participate in the ancestral rites to honor her dead grandparents. It was the anniversary of her grandmother's death but they held the ceremony for both of them. In Korea, apparently, the bonds of matrimony aren't just for life - they're for eternity. Death ain't parting anyone.

Amy's mom prepared a lavish spread for them from fresh vegetables and fruit that she bought earlier in the day for this meal. In many places special stores exist for the express purpose of selling ancestral ceremony food that is guaranteed to be fresh and of the highest quality.
You may notice that all of the fruits have the tops cut off of them. This makes it easier for Amy's grandparents to eat them.
Before the ceremony began, Amy's father lit the candles and they opened the apartment door. At the time I thought Amy said that they were inviting the neighbors. It turns out they were letting in her grandparents.

After all of us performed some three bows on the mat and poured some special soju into a glass on the table, Amy's father chanted a poem.

I was worried that after the ceremony all of the food would be considered "tainted" and thrown away. Luckily it wasn't, and we ate it all. That is, what Amy's grandparents left behind.

1 comment :

  1. interesting post. yesterday my coteacher had an apple on her desk with the top cut off and it just sat there all day. it was kind of driving me nuts, but i never did ask about it. i'll have to find out who it was for...


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