Saturday, October 19, 2013

Breaking The Basket Ceremony (함받기)

Last weekend I met some more of Jihyeon's relatives in Iksan for a strange ceremony that roughly translates as "breaking the basket" (함받기). The ceremony is mean to symbolize breaking bad luck and ensure the couple of a prosperous future together. 

Traditionally, before the wedding, the groom's family would send presents to the bride and her family in a box called a Ham. Additionally, the Hamjinabi (person who delivered the Ham) and a small group of close friends of the groom would also deliver a pot of Bongch'i Deok (red bean rice cake) from the groom's family. The brides family would have a small party for the group, offering them food and drink for their efforts. The ceremony of delivering the Ham has evolved into a major event for friends of the groom, with the bearers "selling" the contents of the Ham to the bride's parents. In recent years the groups have become very boisterous and demanded large sums of money... which is then promptly spent on alcohol.

I wasn't allowed into the apartment until I put on my hanbok and broke the basket in the doorway. My only option? Get dressed in the stair well. 

That's the "basket" on the floor in the doorway. It's not actually a basket, it is more like a bowl made out of a hollowed out gourd. Ideally you are meant to break it on the first try. 


I then had to bring the suitcase (known as the ham) filled with gifts for Jihyeon into the apartment. 

And take my shoes off. You can see the broken basket/gourd on the floor. 

I had to wait for Jihyeon to get changed into her hanbok.

Jihyeon's parents then sat down. That is a giant rice cake on the table. 

And then Jihyeon and I had to do a "big bow". 

Rice cake^^.

The front door was left open to welcome the other visitors (aunts and uncles) who were yet to arrive. 

An up close of a broken fragment of the broken basket/gourd. 

And then once the aunts and uncles arrived, it was dinner time. Food glorious food.

After dinner Jihyeon's father opened the suitcase that contained the gifts for Jihyeon (the wedding rings and a dress) and a letter written using Chinese characters (the alphabet Korea used thousands of years ago).

And this is the letter. This is known as the Honseo (marrage paper). It is wrapped in black silk and states the name of the sender (my father) and the purpose of sending (marriage) between myself and Jihyeon. It symbloizes the dedication of the wife to only one husband. The wife is to keep this document with her forever, having it buried with her when she dies. 

I'll try and dig up some more info on this custom, but that's all I have for now.

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