Korean birthday breakfast: seaweed soup

I celebrated my birthday last December 7th. My parents-in-law stayed with us, after celebrating “jesa” or ancestral rites. I usually wake up early to prepare breakfast for my parents whenever they’re here. However, since it was my birthday my mom-in-law woke up earlier than moi and prepared seaweed soup along with other side dishes. It was a typical Korean breakfast with kimchi, fried fish, spinach and more.

Seaweed soup - traditional Korean meal for birthdays
Seaweed soup - traditional Korean meal for birthdays

Why do Koreans serve “miyeok guk” (Hangeul: λ―Έμ—­κ΅­) or seaweed soup on birthdays? It’s to remind the celebrator of the mother’s hardship in giving birth. After giving birth, moms are given this soup so they could recuperate faster. It is believed that the nutrients will help the uterus to shrink faster and the joints stronger. Aside from that, new moms are encouraged not to do heavy work. It is traditional for the mother-in-law to look after her daughter-in-law who had just given birth. New mothers are also asked not to take a bath or a shower for 21 days! No kidding! The day after I gave birth, I took a shower and got a good scolding from my parents-in-law. I knew they meant well though ;p

26 comments

  1. after i gave birth, i stayed for a month in ma PIL’s house and they took good care of me.. they prepared me this soup everyday..i really dont like this soup because the miyeok is very slimy but i had to eat it every meal….nakakasawa but i know its for my good….they also said that eating miyeok guk can make you produce more milk..(breastmilk) so i had to eat it for my baby…

  2. aww, happy (belated?) birthday, you!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ seaweed soup is super yummy!!! although, i never really took to it as a kid lols. i especially love it when there’s egg added in.

  3. the nurse bathed me 2 days after. i wanted a shower after getting up but my mom wouldn’t let me. sabagay, sobrang sakit ng katawan ko non, parang galing ako sa boxing ring ang itsura ko. unlike Anne, i couldn’t go to the comfort room alone until we got home…

  4. Belated happy bday Ms.betchay.. juriwon took care of me when I give birth to my son. I’m more comfortable to juriwon than to my MIL hahaha mas oa kasi byenan ko mag alaga at super panahon ni kopong kopong style …I Wish my husband could send me again in juriwon with my 2nd baby.

  5. I ate Seaweed soup everyday at the hospital when i got confined due to excessive vomiting at 9 weeks preggy. it was sooo good that yun nalng ang kinakain ko.dedma na the side dishes even the rice ;p

  6. Belated happy bday Ms. Betchay! Thanks for posting about Korean traditions. Now I know why they eat this during birthdays πŸ™‚

  7. belated happy birthday!

    my birthday is 5th december. that means we both are sagittarius! nice to meet you =)

    once i cooked miyeok guk by a recipe i got from the net.. i did not like the taste.. now a pile of miyeok remains unused. =(

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