How to Celebrate Seollal – Korean New Year – HEROINE


The New Year is celebrated in different ways around the world: each country has its own unique traditions, superstitions, and dishes that are served at the table. In Korea, it is called Seollal and the day it is celebrated is recognized by the lunar calendar. About how to celebrate it, we tell in the material.

When is Seollal celebrated?

Korean New Year comes in late January or early February. The date is determined by the first new moon after the winter solstice. This year the holiday will come on January 22. The celebration lasts three days: on New Year’s Eve, directly on the date of the new year and one more day after.

What traditions are observed in Seollal

Korean New Year is a family holiday. According to tradition, it is held in the circle of loved ones, having gathered on a visit to the eldest relative.

One of the most important traditions of Seollal is called Sebae. This is how children honor and congratulate their parents. They make a deep bow and say the wish, “Please accept many New Year’s blessings.” In return, parents can give them some money or give a short wise pep talk. During this ritual, most Koreans prefer to dress in hanbok, the traditional costume.

The first day of the holiday begins with a tradition called Charye. This is a memorial service where the people of Korea pray for peace and prosperity. Family members gather at a table specially prepared for the ceremony. The ceremony begins with deep bows in greeting to the ancestors.

Dishes that are not placed on the table for the ritual differ depending on the region. The most common is tteokguk. This is a rice dumpling soup made with beef broth. It is customary to prepare it on a festive morning, as it is believed that a person who eats a bowl of tteokguk becomes a year older. In addition to soup, meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and drinks are placed on the ritual table.

A lot of time during the holiday is devoted to traditional games. For example, Yut-nori, or Yunnori. This board game originated in antiquity. It requires a round or square field – it is drawn on fabric or cardboard, chips of different colors – often buttons or coins are used instead, as well as four sticks, flat on one side and convex on the other.

The game is a race in which both two people and a team can take part. Sticks are used instead of a die or dice – their position determines how much the participant’s chip can move forward. The goal of the game is to be the first to move the chips around the circle, overtaking other participants.

What gifts are given in Seollal

For the most part, Koreans prefer three types of gifts to Seollal – money, everyday goods, and groceries. Any surprise that is presented to loved ones should reflect the love and gratitude of the giver.

Often in a gift, especially for the elderly, there are useful products, such as ginseng, medicinal herbs. They also give fresh fruit and meat – they can be too expensive for a daily purchase, so such a surprise is considered worthy and luxurious.

But still, dried fish and meat are more popular as New Year’s gifts, which are easier to pack, send to another region or store as long as needed.

On the shelves of Korean stores before the New Year, you can often find gift grocery sets that include canned food or coffee. They can also consist of several cosmetic products – such gifts are most often given to women.

How to decorate a house in Seollal

Traditionally, decorations for Seollal should be bright and colorful. They are dominated by red, which symbolizes joy and good luck. Yellow and green are also popular. And black is not used to decorate a house or as a shade of traditional clothing – it is associated with mourning.

The main decorations of houses in Korea on New Year’s days are lanterns made of paper or silk. They can be either plain or decorated with the words “happiness”, “well-being” or wishes.

Often, red rhombuses cut out of paper are used as decor. The hieroglyph “luck” is applied to them, but in order to attract it to the house, you need to write the word upside down. Rhombuses are most often placed above doorways.

Also, in most cases, flowers become New Year’s decorations. For example, peonies, which represent honor and wealth, or orchids, which symbolize good luck.

Golden tassels are also used as decor – they are hung on door handles or attached to lanterns. No less popular are red and gold candles, which decorate the festive table or shelves in the rooms.

Read related:How to celebrate Chinese New Year

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