Tradition – Korea

Tradition- Korea

“It is a Korean tradition to eat Miyok Guk (seaweed soup) on one’s birthday.”

My mother told me she learned this tradition when she was really young. She told me that every birthday since she can remember, her mother (my grandmother) would make her this traditional seaweed soup. She would always start off her birthday by eating this soup. My grandmother did this tradition not only with my mother but also with my mother’s six other siblings. This tradition carried on to my mother. She makes this tradition soup on my birthday and also my sister’s birthday. My mother also makes this soup on my father’s birthday since my father’s mother lives far away. My mother said that she doesn’t really know when and by whom this was started. However, she said that the reason why Korean mothers make this soup on their children’s birthday is because right after giving birth it is a tradition for the mother to eat this soup. This soup is supposed to have many nutritious benefits that replenish the mother after she uses all her energy to give birth. Also this soup is supposed to help the mother lactate better. So by eating this soup on your birthday, it represents your birth and it also is supposed to give you strength because this soup gave strength to your mother to feed you.

Just like my mother has been eating this soup ever since birth, I feel like I have also been eating this soup since forever. I don’t know much about the soup giving you strength and helping mothers lactate better. Maybe it does and maybe it does not. However, I think most of all, it is eaten so families can celebrate and reminisce back to the day a family member was born. Since the child came out of the mother, I feel like not so much the father but the mother has a huge attachment to the day her child was born. I think this is why every Korean mother I know; cooks Miyok guk on every birthday of her child. Eating Miyuk Guk on my birthday has more of a superstitious meaning for me. I feel like by eating this soup on my birthday it will give me good luck and another good year. However, I remember a time when my mother was actually gone for my birthday and she could not cook the soup for me. Even though, my father cooked some Miyuk Guk that morning, it felt very weird. It just wasn’t the same as my mother’s. I felt like I was almost cursed to have a bad year.

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