새해 복 많이 받으세요! Happy New Year!

For Koreans, Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday of the year. For Lunar New Year, we take three days off to see family and relatives. The holiday begins a day before Seollal(설날 New Year’s Day) and ends a day after New Year’s Day. A day before New Year’s Day, we go to our oldest uncle’s house(father side) where usually is held a ceremonial event. On this day, we make tons of food for the ceremony like Namool(vegetable side dishes), Mandoo(dumplings), Dduckguk(rice cake soup) and many more. All of this food is served on a big table in early morning of New Year’s Day for a traditional ceremony.

This ceremony is for our ancestors. In early morning on New Year’s Day, we write our ancestors names on a piece of paper and put it on the table as well as the food. And we bow to our ancestors to appreciate what they did for us. After the ceremony, we can have the delicious food for breakfast!!!!!!

Dduckguk is the most important food on New Year’s Day. Dduck(떡) is rice paste and guk(국) is soup. The rice paste for Dduckguk originally looks like a long tube, and we call it Gah-rae Dduck(가래떡). We slice 가래떡 into thin pieces to make the soup. Because 가래떡 is long and white, Dduckguk(떡국) represents longevity and pureness. Thus, we say that we get one year older after eating one bowl of Dduckguk for breakfast on New Year’s Day. (I wanted to stop eating Dduckguk after I turned 20. Haha!)

After the big breakfast, children give their parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents New Year’s bow(Sebe세배). When we give older generation Sebe, we say 새해 복 많이 받으세요! (Hope you have a lot of luck on new year). And older generation give them hopeful wishes and pretty silk pockets (Bok Joomoney 복주머니). As you can guess, there is money inside of the Bok Joomoney. We call this money as Sebetdon(세뱃돈). When I was a kid, I gave all of this money to my mom because my mom said that she will keep the money for my future. I haven’t seen that money since then, but I guess it is already in my stomach as food. 🙂

In the afternoon, we play Yootnori(윷놀이) which is a traditional game with four wooden sticks. It is very simple, and all of the family can play together, so I really liked it when I was a kid. For lunch, we put all the vegetable side dishes in a big bowl together with Gochujang(고추장), make Bibimbop(비빔밥). I really miss my aunts Bibimbop!!! There are always some special programs on TV for New Year’s Day like Ssirum(씨름, Korean wrestling) or new movies. We only had one TV at our uncle’s house, and we didn’t have the Internet, so I REALLY didn’t like Ssirum(씨름) because that was my dad’s and uncles’ favorite TV program. 🙂

After lunch, we usually go to my mom’s side of family. Very fortunately, my parents’ families live close enough, we could do this in one day. And on New Year’s Day, Seoul became a ghost city because a lot of people go to their hometown a day before. We do the same thing with my mom’s side of family, but my mom’s side of family loves singing, so we always have singing contest after dinner.

A day after New Year’s Day, my family usually took a hike on a mountain near my house, or I went shopping with my siblings and friends while everyone else rush back to their house from their hometown. The highway has huge traffic, so my family usually didn’t drive anywhere else a day after New Year’s Day. From Busan to Seoul, it usually takes 4 or 5 hours on a car, but on this day, it sometimes takes 15 hours!!!!

I don’t live in Korea anymore, so I really miss these memories. I am a terrible cook, but this year I made Dduckguk and egg battered fish for myself. I hope we all healthy and happy, Happy New Year to everyone!

새해 복 많이 받으세요!

[Reading] 어떻게 해야 할지 모르겠어요.

저는 혼자서 결정을 잘 못하고 귀도 얇아요. 점심을 먹을 때 보통 항상 친구한테 뭘 먹을지 물어봐요. 쇼핑을 할 때도 친구한테 어떤 것이 예쁜지 물어봐야 돼요.

요즘 저한테 고민이 하나 있어요. 지금 다니는 회사 일이 너무 힘들어서 그만두고 싶어요. 부장님께 어떻게 말할지 한 달 동안 고민했지만 어떤 것이 좋은지 모르겠어요. 부장님은 눈치가 빨라서 요즘  자꾸 저한테 무슨 일이 있는지 물어봐요. 어제는 점심 시간에 다른 회사에서 면접을 보고 왔어요. 그런데 부장님이 점심에 어디에 갔다 왔는지, 어디에서 밥을 먹었는지 물어봐서 너무 곤란했어요.

부장님은 제가 무슨 생각을 하고 있는지 이미 알고 있는 것 같아요. 부장님이 오늘도 저한테 잠깐 이야기하자고 했어요. 이따가 3시에 부장님하고 회의가 있는데 무슨 말을 해야 할지 정말 모르겠어요.

회의 전에 엄마한테 물어봐야 할 것 같아요.

단어와 문법>

혼자(서) : alone
결정하다 : to decide
귀가 얇다 : to listen to others a lot (click here to learn more)
-(으)ㄴ/는/-(으)ㄹ지 : whether, if (click here to learn more)
-았/었/였는지: whether, if (past tense)
-아/어/여야 되다/하다 : should, have to (click here to learn more)
고민 : worrisome
회사를 다니다 : to go to work (attend)
그만두다 : to quit
부장+ 님: director + an honorific suffix
눈치가 빠르다 : to be quick-witted
자꾸 : again, continuously
면접을 보다 : to have an interview for a job
곤란하다: (situation) to be difficult
이미 : already
-고 있다: action in progress
잠깐: a short time
-자고 하다: say “let’s do” (click here to learn more)
회의: work meeting
전: before, ago
물어보다 : to ask
-(으)ㄴ/는/-(으)ㄹ 것 같다 : to look like

You can listen to the audio file by clicking here.