May is Asian Heritage month in Canada and is a wonderful opportunity for us to prayerfully reflect on the contributions of Asian Canadians to society. There is incredible richness and diversity within Asia and our hope is to celebrate the history, stories and achievements of Asian cultures within our school and greater community.
아침 (밥) 먹었어? Did you know that in South Korea the traditional morning greeting is “Have you had breakfast?” Korean people ask all the time about whether someone has eaten. Later in the day, the question changes to “Have you eaten?” The greeting can be formal and polite or casual and more intimate like “How are you doing?” A child may hear this greeting multiple times in a day. If a child answered “no” to the question, then food would be served. It would not be unusual for a child to be fed by multiple households as families take care of one another in this special way.
Rice is a staple dish in many Asian countries. Rice comes in a large variety of shapes, textures, colours, lengths and aromas. As humans, we are much like the variety of rice….we are all different However, a bowl of rice has one thing in common - it gives life. It is seen as a collaborative work that has brought rice to the table - sunshine, rain, rich soil and the act of human toil and labour.
For East Asian people, rice is also a symbol of peace. In fact, when the Chinese characters of rice are divided into two, the first character (和) means to eat rice and the second (平) means to share it together equally. The same is true in Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. For Asian people the eating of rice is a sacred act as it is an act of peace and community. So, the greeting in Korea, “Have you eaten?” is a wonderful reminder that people are checking up on each other’s well-being. We are not alone; we are all connected.
God has created us for fellowship. We are created, foremost, to have fellowship with Him. However, he also created us to be in fellowship with one another. Not only were we created in this way, we are commanded to be in loving fellowship with each other. "A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you you must love one another." John 13:34.
What a great reminder the Korean greeting tradition is for all of us to remain connected and to check in with one another in the spirit of their culture and ask, “Have you eaten?” 아침 (밥) 먹었어?
What a Beautiful Name - Devotional Song
**This information was based on a sermon by Korean pastor Rev. Dr. Hyuk Cho at West Point Grey United Church in Vancouver.