Tradition – Korea

Tradition- Korea

“Every New Year’s day, it is also a Korean tradition to eat Dduk Mandu Guk (Dumpling

soup with rice cakes).”

My mother told me another tradition that Korean’s do every year. Every New Year’s day, Koreans eat a traditional dish of Dduk Mandu Guk. She told me that she used to eat it in Korea every New Year’s day. Korea’s New Years is a little different from America’s because Korea celebrates its New Years based on a lunar calendar and not a solar calendar. She told me that before when she was younger that they would eat just Mandu Guk (Dumpling soup) without the Dduk (rice cake) on New Years. It wasn’t until sometime later that they added Dduk to it. She said the northern regions of Korea (before North and South split) added Dduk to their soup and it influenced others regions of Korea to follow. She said that each family has different and special methods and ingredients that they add to their dumplings that make each dumpling somewhat unique. This variation makes most families’ dumpling soup somewhat unique. In my mom’s dumpling soup, she said that she adds seasoned chicken breast strips on top of the soup to give it a spicy kick to it. When asked why Koreans eat dumpling soup for New Years, she said that every year that passes, we “ate” another year. So to kind of symbolize that “eating” and for another good year, Koreans like to eat a nice, warm, filling dumpling soup.

It was kind of neat talking to my mother about this. I didn’t realize that Korea celebrated New Year’s on a different day than us. My mother grew up eating this soup on a different day every New Year since the New Year’s date would change every year because of the lunar calendar. I really enjoy eating Dduk Mandu Guk and especially on New Year’s. It is like eating turkey every Thanksgiving. It is a meal I grew up eating every New Year’s and I feel like I have to eat it every New Year’s. I actually often go to Koreatown and order a bowl of dumpling soup once in awhile. And it is true what my mother says about each soup being somewhat different. Sometimes the base is different and other times it is the dumpling that has a slightly different taste to it. I realized that all dumpling soups are very similar, and yet somehow pretty different. To this day, I have yet encountered a dumpling soup with the same chicken strips that mother adds. I wasn’t sure if I understood my mother correctly when she said they “ate” another year. I have never heard of a year passing, as eating the year. But overall, it was interesting learning about this.

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