2.03.2011

Happy Korean New Year!

Greeting cards, available at Mandy's Moon
Hooray! Today is the first day of Korean New Year. I hope the Year of the Rabbit has many good things in store for all of us.

Have I told you how much I love the Korean holidays? So many of them seem to be centered around family and paying honor to elders. I think that's just the coolest thing. Here's a few traditions about the holiday that are especially nice:

  • Commonly known as the lunar new year, or Seolnal in Korea, the holiday lasts for three days. 
  • There are many superstitions regarding this holiday. Some Korean people keep rakes or straw scoopers at the entrance to their home to keep their family safe from evil. Many believe that being awake and welcoming the New Year will lead to a bright, healthy and happy life and prevent premature aging. Some ring a gong or loud drums, performing the ritual Jishin Balpgi to ward off evil spirits. And some believe in the power of drinking kkwi balki sol may protect the drinker from overhearing malicious gossip, and give them the ability to accept wise advice. (I'm going to start searching for this right away!)
  • People often purchase new clothes especially for Seolnal, including traditional hanboks, to start the new year off fresh. (I wonder if a new outfit from J. Crew will count?)
  • The family gathers together to perform ancestral rites, commemorating and showing respect for those that went before them. This is my favorite part. I love thinking about those that came before us, and knowing that our futures were shaped by those in the past.
  • The New Year's meal includes a soup called tteokguk, made of beef broth, and tteok, chewy rice cakes. (Not so into the beefy broth stuff, but the rice cakes sound great.)
  • Following the meal, younger children bow (saebae) to their elders and pay their respects. Elders offer blessings and give the children money as a gift. (To learn how to perform a proper saebae, go HERE.)
  • Games are also a big part of the celebrations. Go HERE to learn how to play some!

Wishes of peace, happiness and prosperity to you all!

You can learn plenty about the holiday HERE, HERE and HERE.

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