Korean New Year

Korean celebrate two New Year’s Days. One at the start of the year on the Lunar calendar (Sonal) and the New Years day we know, which start on the first day of the solar calender (January 1st). But the Lunar New Year is one of the most important Korean holiday on the calendar.

New year’s days are family holidays. The Solar New Year’s Day is more traditionally celebrated with friends. The Lunar New Years day is a three-day event. Most people try to return to their family homes to spend time with and to honor ancestors. If family members are not all gathering in one place, then it also customary for the younger generations to visit older uncles, aunts, and relatives that live close enough and give well wishes for the New Year.  Even in the West, Koreans have opportunities to honor Lunar New Year. Western cities with large populations of Asians typically have Lunar new year festivities.

Seh Bae

Since New Year’s day is about reconnecting with the family and ancestors for the Korean they will perform ceremonial rituals like seh bae. The tradition is that families begin by doing seh bae to deceased ancestors and making food and drink offerings to the spirits of the ancestors (charae).

Children receive gifts of money and words of wisdom for the New Year, and everyone wishes each other blessings for the New Year (saehae bok manee badesaeyo).

Also food has a big part in the New Year’s traditions. The New Year’s meal is a soup of thinly sliced rice cakes or a variation with dumplings. Because everyone turns a year older with the start of each New Year (and not on their birthday), many people tell their children that they can’t get older unless they’ve eaten some duk gook. Some type of duk (rice cakes, ttuk or tteok) is enjoyed at every important Korean celebration, and the white rice cakes in the soup, represents a clean start and new beginning for the New Year.


Written by Charlotte


Korea & Japan Lover. Princess of the internetshops, waiting for a crown ( and prince charming)

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