Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let's Eat

I was reminded last night of a class I took in college. I don't even remember the title or the overall subject matter of the class, except that is was in the humanities category, probably a history or literature class. The one lecture that I remember was about (sit down for this) EATING! I remember the professor spent the whole class talking about how mankind had a history of combining celebrations and eating. Celebratory feast. In the USA we have many examples of this - of course there is Thanksgiving, New Years, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, and many other holidays where we will gather with family and friends to celebrate the holiday and share a (usually large) meal. On a smaller scale, you might invite a few friends to dinner to celebrate a birthday, a new job, a retirement, etc.

In Korea, I have previously attended a Korean wedding and also a special birthday party that is given for a child's first birthday. Both of those events include the guests dining together, often from a large buffet with endless food. Last night I attended a Korean funeral for the first time, expecting it to be a short solemn gathering. There was certainly an air of solemnity, but I was surprised to find that the funeral included a full dinner! All the family and friends arrived throughout the evening, paid their respects to the immediate family, and dined together at tables next to the chapel area (for lack of a better term).

While I haven't been to all that many funerals in the USA, I don't recall eating at any. I thought about it last night, and I this dinner + funeral combination is a good idea. It doesn't need to be full-fledged New Orleans' style wake with a Dixieland Band and a parade, but having all the family and friends eat dinner together seems like a good way to celebrate the life of the person who has passed away. Please pass the kimchi...

1 comment:

The Stumbling Mom said...

In our Southern culture (southern USA anyway) the eating the the burying are separated in time, but both occur. The eating & most importantly the drinking come first, probably the night before the burying. This is the official wake, but usually isn't done in the presence of the dearly departed. Much remembering and many tipsy tears with just enough solid food to make the ladies happy. Next day the solumn funeral and burial, followed by close relatives gathering at the home for more eating and imbibing, this time the emphasis on the eating part with just enough drinking to make it all slide nicely down. No weeping and wailing at this one. Much more emphasis on communicating with all the relatives you've not seen since the last old person died or the last young person married. I used to feel slightly guilty at the glee I felt when someone down in Eutaw died because I knew I'd get to see my cousins I didn't get to see otherwise.