Recently, my Korean school classmates from our first year class and I held a surprise baby shower for our lovely and now new mommy (congratulations!) Korean teacher. She was our first Korean language teacher and we were her first class of non-Korean students and we have a really great bond with her.
During the baby shower, our teacher shared with us some very interesting information about the customs for pregnancies in Korea and I decided to look up some of the other traditions for pregnancies in Korea.
She told us that it isn’t customary to have a baby shower in Korea. She also mentioned that they have ultrasounds in Korea much more frequently throughout the pregnancy than they do in Canada.
According to traditions, the baby sees, feels, eats and thinks what the mom sees, feels, eats and thinks. Everything the mom saw, felt or ate could potentially affect the baby’s physical appearance. The mom wasn’t allowed to eat duck in fear of the baby having webbed feet and also wasn’t supposed to eat tofu because it falls apart easily, representing a weak child. She was instructed to only look at beautiful things. She was supposed to avoid eating spicy foods because she is already considered to be hot. She couldn’t eat blemished fruits or vegetables either.
After the baby is born, the mother is only supposed to eat seaweed soup for a minimum of two weeks. It helps the mother regain strength quickly due to the seaweed being so rich in vitamins and minerals. Seaweed is also very good for breastfeeding women.
Baek-Il Janchi, also known as the 100 Day Celebration, is a very important celebration and milestone for the baby and its family. Held 100 days after the baby was born, this signifies a healthy baby because in the olden days, babies often didn’t survive past 100 days. During this time, the family worships “Samshin”, the Goddess of Life, for helping the mother and infant survive a difficult period of time. Usually the family makes offerings of rice and soup to the goddess. Red bean rice cakes are placed at the four compass points of the house to protect the baby and to bring the family good fortune and happiness. It is believed that if 100 people share rice cakes from the baek-il janchi, the child will live a long life.
I am so ecstatic to be able to see my teacher’s baby grow up here. In a couple months, it’ll be his beak-il janchi, where I’ll be able to experience these neat traditions first hand!