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!

Korean Holidays

2016 holidays in Korea

 

Koreans still use Sun calendar and Lunar calendar. Most Korean holidays are on the Sun calendar, however we(Koreans) still celebrate the two biggest holidays(Seollal and Chuseok) with the Lunar calendar.  Because these days are a day off or a few days off at work and school, so we call them ‘공휴일(day off)’ and ‘연휴(a few days off)’.

Here are a list of holidays and what we do on those days.

1/1 설날 (양력설  New year’s day on the Solar calendar) – We eat 떡국(rice cake soup) and celebrate a new year.

2/7~2/10설날(음력설 New year’s day on the Lunar calendar) – It is the biggest holiday!!! It is January 1st on the Lunar calendar, so the date changes every year on the Solar calendar. People go to their hometown and meet their parents and families on this day. A day before 설날, we get together to prepare food for the early morning ceremony on 설날, which is for our ancestors. We eat 떡국(rice cake soup) after the ceremony and we play traditional games like 윷놀이(four sticks). For more information about 설날, click here.

3/1  삼일절 (Independent movement day) – It occurred on March 1st in 1919 during the Japanese colonial occupation period. On this day, there are lots of places have reenactment performances. You can learn more about 삼일절 through this website.

5/5 어린이날 (Children’s day) – Kids love it, parents hate it. 🙂 A lot of people go to amusement parks or go on a picnic on this day.

5/14 석가탄신일 (Buddha’s birthday) – It is April 8th on the Lunar calendar, so the date changes every year. Buddhism is one of the biggest religions in Korea. Buddhists go to a temple to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.

6/6 현충일 (Memorial day) – It is the day to commemorate people who fought for Korea. The government holds a ceremony at the National Cemetery in Seoul.

8/15 광복절 (Independence day) – It is the day that we found our freedom back from Japanese colonial rule.

9/14~9/16 추석(Chuseok, Full moon holiday) – It is August 15th on the Lunar calendar, so the date changes every year. Chuseok is the second biggest holiday for Koreans. We go to our parents house to celebrate it and eat a lot of food. The day before Chuseok, families get together to prepare food for a morning ceremony on Chuseok. Food for Chuseok, 송편(pine tree flavor rice cake) is the most famous food for this day.

10/3 개천절 (National Foundation Day) – National Foundation day is celebrating for the day that Dan-goon Jo-seon is established for 4348 years ago.

10/9 한글날 (Hangeul Day) – It is the day to celebrate Hangeul that was created by Sejong the Great in 1443.

12/25 크리스마스 (Christmas) – A lot of people celebrate Christmas even though they are not Christians. Koreans somehow celebrate it as Valentine’s day, so a lot of couples eat out on this day. Some restaurants change their prices twice as much as original prices. Streets are full of people who hang out with their friends. It is fun, but I don’t recommend you to go to a busy street because there are lots of people who are drunk.

 

Some holidays are not a day off, but very important for us, which are

5/8 어버이 날 (Parents day) – It is the day to appreciate our parents. On this day, we send carnations and gifts to our parents or eat a nice meal with them.

5/15 스승의 날 (Teacher’s day) – We express appreciation to our teachers on this day by sending cards and gifts to our teachers. 스승 is formal word for teacher.

 

* 설날 Seollal (lunar calendar), 추석(Chuseok) and 석가탄신일(Buddha’s birthday) change every year because it is on the lunar calendar.

 

* My favorite holiday is Seollal and Chooseok because there are lots of food and we can take three days off to see our family and friends!