Seollal is the first day of the Korean Lunar Calendar. It is one of the most important celebrations in Korea and falls over three days.
By Anna Kim
Seollal and Chuseok are the two top annual celebrations that Koreans regard very highly. They take time off to travel to their home towns to spend time with their parents and families. These national big holidays are equivalent to American Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Seollal, Korean New Year, can be traced all the way back to the Chosun and Shilla Dynasties, where palaces celebrate New Years with the various customs and traditions incorporated in current times. Seollal is the first day of the Korean Lunar Calendar. For the year 2018, Lunar New Year fell on Friday, February 15th.
The morning of Seollal begins with an ancestral rite—Charye—a memorial service that prays for the peace and good health of their ancestors. Family members, who are dressed up in Seolbim, special clothing for Seollal, pay respect and gratitude to their ancestors by making deep bow in front of the ritual table set with dishes of ritual foods, which are according to the laws of ancestral rites.
One of the biggest parts of Seollal is the food! Ddukguk, a rice cake soup, is the most representative of Seollal dishes. Eating a bowl of ddukguk symbolizes growing a year older along with good health and longevity. Other signature dishes for Seollal are: Galbijjim, braised short ribs; Japchae, sweet potato noodles with meat and vegetables; Jeon, Korean pancakes containing chopped vegetables; and Hangwa, Korean traditional cookies. Fresh fruits, fish, meats, and a mix of vegetables are also indispensable. The representative desserts for Lunar New Year’s are Su-jeong-gwa, a traditional fruit punch made from persimmons, cinnamon, and ginger, and Sik-hye, a sweet beverage made with malt barley, malt power, and rice to help digest after the heavy meals.
After the meal, young family members perform Sebae, a New Year’s bow, to their elder family members. Males and females differ in the ways of performing Sebae. They are in exchange for blessings and Sebaedon, New Year’s money in new banknotes.The kids who receive Sebaedon from their elders put the money into a fortune pouch called a Bokjumeoni, a drawstring silk or cotton pouch embroidered with various auspicious symbols that are believed to bring fortune.
Food, fortune, and what else for the families gatherings on Lunar New Year? You know the drill. Family fun activities! For the remainder of the day, Koreans play traditional folk games and share stories with their family members. Popular games played on Seollal are: Yut Nori, a board game involving throwing 4 wooden sticks; Jegichagi, a hacky sack game; Tuho, arrow putching; Neolttwigi, an acrobatic performance in a see-saw manner; Yeonnalligi, kite-flying; or Gongginori, a game similar to jacks. These games are fun to play during any occasion whether you are a Korean or not.
Meanwhile, the year of 2018 is the Year of the Dog, which is eleventh in the Chinese zodiac. Those born in the Year of the Dog are believed to be faithful, loyal, honest, smart, straightforward, venerable, and have a strong sense of responsibility. On the flip side, they are likely to be self-righteous, terribly stubborn, and critical of others. The Years of the Dog include 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042…Born in the 1946, President Donald J. Trump is also the Year of the Dog.
You, the Dog People, and all Georgians, Happy Lunar New Year!
People are enjoying Yut Nori, a board game involving throwing 4 wooden sticks.
Ddukguk, a rice cake soup, is the most representative of Seollal dishes.