Korean Wedding Ducks? Yes, Ducks.

By November 20, 2014East Asia, On Love

Wedding Ducks Say Happy Anniversary!

One year ago today, Hudson and I signed a piece of paper in a language we can read but do not understand. Presumably, that document means we are married. Last year, as a gift from one of his students, we received traditional Korean wedding ducks. Unaware of this custom, I took to Google to figure out what was going on with these lovely ducks who so charmingly grace our windowsill.

korean wedding ducks

the red one is the wifey

As it turns out, wedding ducks are actually a very important part of a Korean wedding (though I’ve been to two weddings here and have seen no ducks). Regardless, I hold these ducks in the highest regard. Apparently Mandarin ducks are chosen because they mate for life and if one of them dies, the other duck will mourn. For the record, I would have also accepted wedding penguins or wedding lobsters in lieu of the ducks. There are many rules for the person who carves the ducks, none of which I am sure were actually upheld. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, the carver is supposed to:

1. Be wealthy.
2. Be in good health.
3. Have a good wife.
4. Not have been divorced, nor should he have relatives who have been divorced.
5. Have many sons.

When the carver completes the ducks and gives them to you (for free) he is never to carve another set of ducks in his life for by giving you the ducks he is sharing some of his own fortunes with you. If the ducks are facing each other it represents harmony in the marriage. I guess Hudson will know I’m mad if he comes home and finds my duck turned around. So thank you to whatever random student’s parent decided that we should be blessed with the single ducks their carver will ever carve. Or, more likely, for just buying some mass-produced ducks off a shelf somewhere.

Happy anniversary to us!

10 Comments

  • Haha I love this post! Very interesting and also weird, but a cute tradition all the same! I totally agree about penguin/ lobster carvings- maybe you should start a new tradition! Penguins are my favourite, so I’d love some when I get married!

  • Wow that’s so interesting! I actually never knew something like this exists. It’s really cute and I guess could be quite useful in Korean marriages because Korean men are usually not very vocal about their feelings and they can be hot tempered (both facts, based on many conversations between my Korean boyfriend and myself). Also, Happy anni!

  • Duke Stewart says:

    Such a cool post! I had no idea about this tradition but there seem to be too many to count in this country. I also noticed 0 ducks at the wedding I attended. Very interesting. Are you really going to turn yours if you’re angry? I think that’d be a good test of whether or not your husband follows the vibe based on them:) Anyway, thanks for sharing.

    • Taylor says:

      haha i doubt i will ever turn that duck around unless it’s in a joking manner. but then again, my husband and i are never really angry with each other for longer than a few minutes. we’ll see what happens as the years go by!

  • Alphonse says:

    Interesting post, and I have a feeling those ducks will multiply! Happy anniversary to you both, indeed!

  • We have marriage ducks too!! ^^ I was just as confused when one of my coworkers gave them to us, so random! Ours are a little bit different than yours, but it’s a good keepsake to have I think! 🙂

  • Ahhh the ducks! We have sent a few home to celebrate marriages we weren’t able to attend, but we didn’t know all of the rules! Great post, really interesting stuff. Happy anniversary and we hope that those ducks always face each other!

  • Katie says:

    HA! I love all of the “rules” and tradition in Korea. What if someone is an amazing duck carver, but they have daughters instead of sons?! Happy Anniversary! Hope you are feeling in good spirits and less lonely than a few weeks ago!

  • Nailah says:

    Thank you for sharing this bit of information! I’ve seen these ducks at several tourist spots on the mainland (not so much in Jeju). I knew it had something to do with marriage and it being a gift for couples getting married, but that was all I knew.

    Happy anniversary to you!

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