Friday, January 20, 2012

Lunar New Year!

Seollal (Lunar New Year; January 1 in lunar calendar) is one of the most celebrated national holidays in Korea. While many observe Sinjeong (Solar New Year; January 1 in solar/regular calendar), most celebrate Seollal, which usually lasts for three days: the day of, the day before, and the day after. This year, Seollal falls on January 23 in regular calendar.
More than just a holiday to mark the beginning of a new year, Seollal is truly a special occasion for the Korean people. Not only is it a time for paying respect to ancestors, but it is also an opportunity to catch up with other family members. Then, it is not unusual to see people in beautiful hanbok (traditional clothes) performing ancestral rites or playing folk games, to eat delicious traditional foods, and to hear stories and chatters well into the night. Read on to discover some of the highlights of Seollal. 
Seollal demands a lot of preparation, especially in terms of gifts, traveling, and food. Gifts are exchanged among family members and friends, so gift shopping before the holiday is essential. The most popular Seollal gifts of all time are department store gift cards and cash. Other popular gifts include ginseng, honey, health products, massage chairs, toiletries, and food gift sets composed of tuna, hangwa, dried fish or fruits. 
The morning of Seollal begins with an ancestral rite. Family members, dressed in brand new hanbok (traditional clothes), gather in front of the ritual table, and set it with an ancestral tablet and dishes of ritual foods according to the laws of ancestral rites. Once set, the rite begins with deep bows as greetings to the ancestor spirits, and proceeds with offerings and prayers, before ending with bidding farewell to the spirits.

Following the rite, everyone eats the ritual foods. Tteokguk (rice cake soup) is the main food of Seollal, and eating it is believed to add a year to one’s age. People often ask each other, “How many servings of tteokguk have you had?” as a fun way to ask each other’s ageRecommended Travel Spots during the Seollal Holiday
                                   Namsangol Hanok Village
                                      Gyeongbokgung Palace
                                             N Seoul Tower
                                    Seoul Museum of History
                                   Lotte World Folk Museum
                              The National Museum of Korea
                                          Korean Folk Village
Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon

No comments:

Post a Comment