Celebrating Seollal: The Traditions and Customs of Korean New Year

Celebrating Seollal: The Traditions and Customs of Korean New Year

Seollal (설날), also known as Korean New Year, is one of the most important holidays in South Korea. It is a time for family gatherings, traditional foods, and various cultural activities. Seollal is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar, usually in late January or early February (the Year of the Rabbit is welcomed in on January 22nd in 2023).

The holiday is a three-day event, starting with ‘Charye’ (차례) the day before Seollal, where families gather together to prepare traditional foods and pay their respects to their ancestors. The main day of Seollal is spent with family, eating traditional foods, playing games, and exchanging gifts. The day after Seollal is often spent visiting one's relatives and friends.

One of the most important aspects of Seollal is the traditional food. Some of the most popular dishes include tteokguk (떡국), a soup made with sliced rice cakes and beef broth, as well as stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables (japchae, 잡채) and dumplings (mandu, 만두).

Another meaningful part Seollal is the traditional activities such as ‘sebae’ (세배), a formal bow made to one's elders as a sign of respect. This is typically done by younger members of the family to their older relatives, and is accompanied by the exchange of well wishes and small gifts.

In recent years, Seollal has become increasingly popular among non-Koreans living in South Korea. Many of them participate in cultural activities and events such as traditional games and food experiences, learning more about the culture and customs of the holiday. It is a time for people to come together and celebrate the culture and customs of South Korea.

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