A Traditional Korean Wedding Ceremony: The Paebaek Piggyback
Following the formal traditional ceremony for our guests there is another ceremony only for the families. An intimate affair to combine the families as one united.
This was originally a ceremony for the groom’s family to formally accept the bride into their home, as in the past following the ceremony the bride would then move in with the groom’s family. As things have changed and this doesn’t happen so much anymore now both families are involved to unite everyone.
Following the wedding ceremony I was taken into a small room where the wonsam, or long overcoat, was removed along with the jokduri and bunyeo from my hair. I changed into a small blue top and a new hairpiece was placed on my head. Jae-oo and I made our way to the center room to join our families who had already been seated with my family on the left side and his family on the right. A table was set in the center with dried fruits and nuts and more wine. The table usually has nine offerings covering it: dates to the east for the couple to rise early and work hard, chestnuts to the west to ward off evil spirits, dried meats and sweets so that the new mother-in-law accepts the new daughter-in-law with kindness and generosity, gingko nuts to bring eternal faith to their son, among others.
First up were Jae-oo’s parents. We bowed deeply to the floor twice and then poured them each a cup of wine. They then offered up words of wisdom. His mother said be happy and don’t fight, which set the trend for those following who basically said the same thing. We then set up to catch chestnuts. Taking my apron across we set up while Jae-oo’s mother took the chestnuts and prepared.
According to legend the number that you catch signifies how many girls (dates) and boys (chestnuts) you will bear. We caught them all and she threw quite a lot to us so I don’t think that legend will hold strong with us…
My mother was next, followed by Jae-oo’s extended family and then my sisters. My sisters are younger than me so we didn’t have to bow all the way to the floor to them, just half way. They also weren’t given the wine to drink.
All of the family members then rose and we all bowed to each other after some formal introductions. We each hugged our new mother-in-law and that was that. Our family was now one.
Then it was just me and Jae-oo. We poured each other a cup of wine, crossed arms and drank. He put a chestnut in my mouth and then had to come and get it. And then finally he lifted me on his back and was told he should take me around the table twice to show his strength. It was a great end to our ceremony.