Seollal, Korean Lunar New Year
Similar to Chinese New Year, the date for Korean Lunar New Year or Seollal is never really fixed on the normal Gregorian calendar. They follow the Lunar Calendar instead, which is based on the cycle of the moon.
The holiday itself last for 3 days! Now here’s a break down of how things go:
Eve of Seollal
A lot of preparation happens before Seollal, especially on the eve! Koreans from all around the world or country have to make plans and book tickets so they can travel back home in time.
People normally travel to their grandparents or parents place during this time and that’s where the real preparation starts.
Food of all kinds are being made, from Kimchi to food for Charye. We’ll talk more about this later.
Kimchi is made in humongous amounts and left to ferment for the rest of the year. These types of Kimchi are highly valued and expensive as they can range up to $30 a bowl.
First day of Seollal
People tend to wear the traditional Hanbok during Seollal, or else they’d wear Western formal attire. Families would all gather together at an elder’s house.
Charye is an old tradition where people pray and pay their respects to their ancestors. They do this by offering different kinds of food like wild herbs, meat, fish, and fruits.
This is usually done first, and the food used for prayers are later eaten.
Similar to the Chinese, money gifts are usually handed out to children. This is called Sebae and recipients would wish ‘<sehae bok mani padeu seyo 새해 복 많이 받으세요>’ followed by a particular bow.
The money is normally kept in an embroided silk bag or else a white envelope. They sometimes have words of wisdom or wishes of good luck!
As for businesses and at work, bosses would give their employees money gifts as well! Usually as a form of thanks for all the hard work they’ve put in for the year.
In addition to that, sometimes there are other gifts like these!
Besides these, there are also other kinds of gifts like facial products, perfume, etc.
There’s also special foods like Tteokguk and Jeon.
Tteokguk is a type of Korean rice cake served with seaweed soup. There are many more types of rice cakes and you can read our small cover up of this right here.
For Koreans, this dish is quite special. By eating it, you are deemed as 1 year older (some joke that the more you eat, means the older you are, so don’t eat too much ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ)
Jeon is a pancake, that is eaten in an unusual way, you open it with chopsticks rather than the normal way of using a knife.
As for games and activities, most people would either play Gostop or Yunnori, here’s what they look like.
The Day After:
Aside from Charye, everything’s pretty much the same as the day before. Games are still played, food still eaten… that’s why people feel completely bloated and worn out after the Lunar New Year!
For those interested in travelling to Korea during Seollal, some places may be holding special events or activities. VisitKorea tends to keep track of them so do keep an eye out for this year!
Here’s where you can see last year’s events.
Happy Lunar New Year!