Korean Lunar New Year Traditions

Korean Lunar New Year Traditions

In Korea, February 12, 2021, marks the first day of Seollal, or Korean Lunar New Year. The celebration typically lasts three days. During this time, relatives come together, wear hanbok, eat traditional food, and play classic games. Seollal is one of the most important traditional holidays!

Seollal is usually celebrated in January or February on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Families gather from all over Korea to pay respect to both ancestors and elders. Furthermore, children often receive money 세뱃돈(se-baet-don) from their elders after performing a formal bow. The holiday is typically a family holiday where everyone gets together to reconnect and have a good time.

The most important traditions that families participate in are rituals of ancestor reverence, also known as “Charye.” Family members usually prepare traditional foods for relatives that are visiting for a holiday. The food is placed on a table as an offering to the ancestors, and then all family members do a deep bow to show respect.

Traditional foods common during Korean New Year are tteokguk, a soup with sliced rice cakes, and jeon, a savory pancake. There is a common tradition when you finish eating tteokguk; you are one year older. Other foods that are commonly prepared are mandu-guk, tteok, galbi-jjim, and japchae.

The best part of Korean New Year is playing traditional games with your family. The most popular games that Koreans play during Seollal is yutnori and GoStop.

Yutnori is a popular older game. There is no limit to the number of players; however, the main focus is to finish the race based on the throwing of four marked sticks. Each team’s goal is to get its four “mals” or horses back to and past the finish line.

Seollal is the perfect time for remembering ancestors, visiting family, having great food and playing traditional games.

새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae-hae bok ma-ni ba-deu-se-yo)