Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Year in Korea - Seollal (설날)

Korean New Year is typically known as Seollal (설날). It is the first day in lunar calendar. Of course, people also celebrate solar new year in January 1 each year, but Seollal is more important than solar new year. Usually, there is three days holiday for Seollal (there is only one day holiday for solar new year), one day before, the new year day, and the day after. 

The video below will give you general idea about Seollal and the traditions.

In Seollal, people will go home to meet their family and relatives, especially visiting the older people (parents and or grandparents). They will take many hours to go to visit their loved one despite the heavy traffic. Also, Koreans will wear their traditional clothes on new year day, which is hanbok. However, some families choose not to wear hanbok anymore, because they become less formal and due to the expensive price of hanbok, kids who grew up don't have any hanbok perfect for their size anymore. Women are busy at home cleaning houses and cooking. They prepare so many food to eat on Seollal, no wonder the activities in market few weeks before Seollal is always so high and crowded. 

Other than tteokguk (떡국) - soup with sliced rice cakes, which is a custom food in New Year, ritual ceremony and folk games played in New Year, the important one to do is 'Sebae', which is a deep traditional bow.  Children or younger person shall bow to older ones and say '새해 복 많이 받으세요' which can be translated as 'Receive many blessings in New Year'. Then, older people will give pocket money for children.

The video below showing the tradition and method of giving Sebae to older people:

Also, this video is so cute, showing children with their colorful hanbok doing sebae and receive their pocket money from their grandparents.

I remembered that my Korean Language teacher has taught me to do Sebae and followed with the tea ceremony. We were in Korean Culture Class at that time, so we wore hanbok and practiced the culture together.Here are the pictures. 

You can notice that men and women have different method of Sebae. Men bow so deep until their head touch the floor, but women do not do the same. Besides that, hand position and sitting position after doing Sebae are also different.  The class was so interesting for me. Even though in Indonesia, there is celebration for lunar new year which we called Imlek or Chinese New Year, but the traditions are not the same. 

Happy New Year to all of you.

With love from Busan,
Dita ^^

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