Traditional Culture, Tea for the Ancestral
The custom of worshiping one's ancestors is disappearing even in China, the country where tea originated, and in Japan, a country that is very proud of its traditional tea ceremony. Of the three Far Eastern countries, only Korea still widely practices its ancestral rite today. In order to keep the wealth of tradition and wisdom handed down from our ancestors for a long time to come, we need to ensure that we are practicing the ancestral rite properly. The ancestral rite upholds the identity of the family, and it is a manifestation of the philosophy of the Korean people, who treasure their roots.
Ancestral memorial services performed on New Year's Day and Chuseok are characterized as 'holding a ceremony with tea.' Unlike ancestral rituals performed in the late afternoon, the rituals on New Year's Day and Chuseok are held in the morning. Head families who offer tea set a ceremonial table very simply without jeon (pancake) or meat dishes. They show respect to their ancestors by offering jujubes, chestnuts, pears, dried persimmons, dasik (pattern-pressed candy), and songpyeon (half-moon shaped rice cake)/tteokgkuk (sliced rice pasta soup), and a cup of tea. Some families offer tea instead of scorched-rice water at the ancestral ritual held at night. The idea of offering tea at rituals may seem strange to us in modern society, but we should note the meaning and spirit of a cup of tea offered on the ceremonial table. We should see that such great love and care in the hands of descendants of head families who grow a tea tree and make ritual vessels all the year round to perform the ritual that expresses the utmost possible respect for their ancestors are more valuable than anything else in this world. Thinking that we can contain our respect and care for our ancestors even in a cup of tea and a dish of dasik, Arumjigi suggests a table setting for the ancestral rite that enables us to continue this time-honored custom in modern society in a wise and beautiful way.