Seollal in Korea

Welcoming a new Lunar Year ~ Seollal  (설날) is one of the biggest festive and celebration in South Korea, beside the Jan 1 New Year that based on Gregorian calendar (Sinjeong) this Seollal turn to be even bigger holidays in Korea.

Today is D-1 before Lunar New Year arrives.  What does South Korean do to prepare and celebrates Seollal ?

Buying gifts for family

One of the tradition is to prepare gifts for their family back home, mostly when they live in different town or city and barely to see each other. The gift usually packed in sets, like ginseng, hanwoo beef, cosmetics/shampoo/soap, snacks or now even gift in a form of electronical household like mini rice cooker, coffee maker or dining sets also happens.

Interesting is in 2016, the anti-graft law is applied in South Korea, therefore the price of the gift cannot be more than 100,000 won (around $100).


The department stores like Shinsaege, Hyundai, Lotte also has shift their habit from selling big packages with high price with smaller size of packages with lower to fair price under 100,000 won.  So actually this is also a good news for people to buy many variant of gifts with affordable price.


Going back to your hometown

Many people lives and works in big city like Seoul, Busan, Daejeon or Daegu, but when the Seollal day comes, it is a tradition to celebrate with their original member of the family therefore it is obvious that they will head back to their hometown; some can be nearby just few hours by car or train others can be far away even to a further area like Geoje or Jeju island.


This tradition result an unavoidable heavy traffics on roads, full crowd on train and bus stations. Reported in local news that even since yesterday Day-2 people had started to hit road and stations endlessly.

Seollal in Korea always occurs in 3 days, one day before – D day – one day after.

We could say the suffering on the way home during Seollal is paid off when they finally see their family members smile welcoming them arrive home.

Perform Ancestral Rites

Koreans is always a matter of respecting the elder and more their Ancestors. A table full of traditional meals and fruits, along with big candles is prepared in every household in Korea in order to do Charye (차례) ceremony in the morning of Seollal day.


Deep Bow 절 (Jeol) and New Year’s Money (Saebaetdon)

The tradition after charye is continue with offering deep bow 절, Jeol to parents/grandparents and handing sebaetdon 새뱃돈.

For the young adults (particularly who are reach working age) they give the saebaetdon to their parents, while it can be the other way around if the Jeol offered by the children or young teenagers,  the parents and elders will gladly handing them saebatdon money.


Tteokguk (Rice Cake Soup)

On this Seollal day, it is a must have dishes to celebrate the beginning of Lunar New Year for South Korean. It convey a wish for the family to stay in good health and the hopes of the longevity.


Made from rice cake (tteok), slice of beef, eggs, vegetables, the soup is put a warm feeling when eating together surrounded by close family members.  It is also believe to add one year of age when eating Tteokguk.

Seollal is also means having other traditional delicious dishes like jeon/pajeon (crabmeat, cucumber, vegetable fried), variant banchan (side dishes), ricecakes.


Play Folk games

After finished paying respect to the elder and gathering with family inside the house, the old Korean ways is to go outside and doing traditional games like Yutnori.


To complete the day many Korean choose to wear hanbok, the Korean traditional clothing, even this tradition still favor for young generations.  The Korea Tourism Government usually open the palaces like Gyeongbokgung and Chandeokgung for free public visits to support the beginning of the year.

Happy to share all the great Korean tradition during Seollal New Year. As many Korean will say during this Seollal :

새해 복 많이 받으세요

Sae Hae Bok Mani Badeoseyo

Have a great & many blessing on Lunar New Year.

Images courtesy of: Korea Tourism Organization, Korea News, Arirang News, Korea Herald, Korea Times, SPN

via Daily Prompt: Simple

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