Korean Wedding Traditions

Valentines Day

by Rafi Michael (edited by Lynne Hand)

In the past, the marriage between a man and woman in Korea represented the joining of two families, rather than the joining of two individuals. As such, the event was often called Taerye (Great Ritual), and people from all over participated. Steeped in traditional Confucian values, the ceremonies and events surrounding the actual marriage were long and elaborate, from the pairing of the couple to the rituals performed after the ceremony.

Professional matchmakers paired up likely candidates for marriage, with the new couple often meeting for the first time at their wedding! The families considered many factors in the decision, consulting with fortune tellers for predictions about the couple's future life together. During the Chosun period, people married in their early teens, with the girl often being several years older than the boy.

Before a Korean bride may be married, she must take part in the traditional Introduction ceremony, where she is accepted into the groom's family.

After the Korean newlyweds have exchanged their wedding vows, the groom, formally, introduces his new wife to his parents. The groom's father may throw red dates at his daughter-in-law to bring her luck in fertility.

Important Korean Symbols A couple getting married in Korea might incorporate ducks or geese into their wedding ceremony. Both ducks and geese mate for life and represent faithfulness.

At one time, a man who wanted to get married in Korea, would travel to his future bride's home on a white pony and present her family with a pair of geese.

The groom usually travelled to the house of the bride for the ceremony, then stayed there for 3 days before taking his new bride to his family's home. The actual ceremony involved many small rituals, with a lot of bowing and symbolic gestures. The participants were expected to control their emotions and remain sombre.

Although Koreans have kept several aspects of the traditional ceremony, most modern ceremonies resemble Western marriage ceremonies more than traditional Korean ones. However, many folk villages and museums across the country regularly perform ceremonies to keep the traditions alive.

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