Housewarming gifts in Korea? Toilet paper, detergent top of list

Housewarming gifts in Korea? Toilet paper, detergent top of list

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

One of the advantages of living in a foreign country is the fact that you get to experience a totally different culture than what you’re used to. If you are invited to a housewarming party in the states, what gift would you bring? You might bring food, snacks or a bottle of wine. But, in Korea, a roll of toilet paper and laundry detergent are the most common gifts to bring. For Koreans, cleaning supplies bring luck and good fortune to the person who just moved into a new home.

Among both toilet paper and laundry detergent, the roll of paper is the most common. Just as easily as the paper unravels from the roll, so is the gift-giver’s desire for the recipient’s continued success and good health. The bubbles from the detergent symbolize prosperity, wealth and stability for the recipient.

Other customs according to local folklore, say taking the remaining embers from the previous house’s fireplace to a new house will also continue the prosperity.

In addition, Koreans used to hold a purification ritual to drive away bad luck and bad spirits from the new house. Due to this, matches and candles were a popular housewarming gift in the 1960s and ‘70s but were replaced with detergent and toilet paper over time.

Aside from being a lucky gift, perhaps the most important thing is that your friend’s cabinet will be filled with toilet paper and detergent, which could be a relief for them in the months to come. If you are invited to a Korean friend’s house warming party, don’t forget the TP and the soap!

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