Thursday, February 07, 2008

Se hae buk mani paduseyo ! Happy New Year!

For foreigners like me New Year is a time of rest, stay home, posting blog entries, sleep and eat. Unlike in the Philippines we usually go to the home of our friends to celebrate with them, here in Korea it is very much a close knit family affair. Below is an article from

On the morning of Seollal, people get up early to wash and put on their ‘Seolbim (new clothes prepared for Seollal)’. Many people wear Hanboks. Then the families gather to perform ancestral rites, paying their respects by offering them food. According to Korean traditions, it is believed that ancestors return to enjoy the holiday food prepared for them. An ancestral tablet is placed on the rites table along with all the dishes and drinks. This is to show appreciation and respect for late ancestors. The ancestral rites also symbolize the descendants’ prayers for a good new year.

After the rites have been performed, everyone shares the holiday food together. Tteokguk is also prepared without exception, made of thinly sliced tteok (rice cakes) cooked in beef soup. According to tradition, eating tteokguk on Seollal adds one year to your age. Therefore, the children ask each other ‘how many servings of tteokguk did you have?’ and they calculate their age according to the number of serving they had just for fun.

After finishing their meal, the younger generations pay their respects to the elders of the family by bowing to them. The elders offer well-wishing remarks such as ‘have a healthy year’ or ‘meet someone nice’ as they give the young people ‘New Year’s money’. Children especially like Seollal because they can receive money as a New Year’s gift. Lately, an increasing number of Christian families are choosing not to perform the ancestral rites due to their religious beliefs. Instead, their family members gather to share food and stories, and spend quality family time during Seollal. Read more.

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