Culture & History, Korean
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태몽

Another tidbit I learned from my language partner.

We were talking about names and such and she said that her own name was rather unusual by Korean standards.  When my language partner was born, her father legally named her this somewhat odd name without consulting her mother, which upset her mother so much that she called my language partner an entirely different (more common) name  for most of her early childhood.  The reason her father named her thus was because of 태몽.

태몽[胎夢] breaks down to 胎 (아이를 배다 태) and 夢(꿈 몽).  The definition is easy to figure out from the Hanja – 태몽 is a dream about a child that is about to be born.  This dream is sometimes dreamt by the mother herself but can be dreamt by close family members as well – the father, grandparents, aunt, uncle, etc.  Traditionally, the content of the dream is supposed to tell you something about the gender, nature, and/or future successes of the child.  Sometimes, as in the case of my language partner, parents name their child based off 태몽.

For example, suppose one dreams about a dragon.  Supposedly, if one sees the horns or head of the dragon, the child will be a handsome boy; if one sees the tail, the child will be a beautiful girl.  Regardless of the child’s gender, a dream containing a dragon is considered very auspicious since dragons symbolize power and authority.  Dreams about tigers are also considered very auspicious.  Since tigers are considered companions of the Mountain God, these types of 태몽 indicate that the child will be very noble and mighty in nature.  Dreams about riding tigers, being bitten by tigers, or being embraced by one supposedly indicate the child will be a boy whereas dreams about tigers entering your home indicate the child will be a girl (source).

This was just a sampling, but there are tons of stuff about 태몽 interpretations out there.  If you’re curious, just type in ‘태몽 풀이’ into your favorite search engine and read away.  It’s quite interesting and will give you insight into what certain animals, fruits, etc. symbolize in Korean culture.

I’m not sure if there’s anything similar to this in American culture and I’m fairly certain there isn’t anything like this in Indian culture.  Interestingly, my family believes in something like the opposite of 태몽.  My parents and grandparents often say that when a person passes away, his/her spirits says its final farewell by visiting close family members’ dreams.  A rather interesting, unexpected parallel!

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