Seollal (설날), one of the most celebrated holiday in Korea, is just around the corner. Unlike the Solar New Year or Sinjeong which is celebrated every January 1st, Seollal is observed according to the lunar calendar — for this year it falls on January 28.
The celebration of the Lunar New Year is important to Koreans because they believe that good luck comes this time and bad spirits are repelled all throughout the year. In Korea, the Seollal will be celebrated from January 27 until January 30, 2017.
Before the celebration officially starts, there are a lot of things Koreans prepare. Gifts are given during this occasion that’s why shopping can be stressful for everyone. Aside from that, people must prepare their travel arrangement ahead of time because of the heavy traffic in Korea during this season.
This is also the time when Koreans honor their ancestors through a ritual cha rye (차례). Variety of foods such as vegetables and fruits are prepared for the ritual but the main dish is the tteokguk or rice cake soup. The rice-cake soup is usually made with beef leg bone and brisket which has been stewed and garnished with tube-shaped rice cakes, eggs, and green onions. Tteokguk or rice cake soup is the first meal of Koreans during seollal and it symbolizes long and continuous happiness, joy and richness.
Also, the younger people show their respect to their elders through a deep bow called sebae and present them gifts. In turn, the elders bless them and wish them a prosperous new year. Children also receive sebaetdon (New Year’s money) as their gift during Seollal.
Another fun thing to do during Seollal is when people gather to play traditional games like ‘yutnori.’ Yutnori is a board game that involves of throwing four wooden sticks. This can be played in teams so every member of the family are encouraged to join and engage in an exciting competition.
Other families also love to do kite flying (yeon-naligi) during this time.
If you are a tourist, this may be the best time to visit the attractions in Seoul because almost everyone leave the city and go to their provinces. You might want to re-schedule going to other places beyond Seoul since the streets will be really busy and it might be a hassle for you to push through since everyone is trying to book train and bus tickets. To help you, below are the list of popular attractions open during the Seollal this 2017:
- The Independence Hall of Korea
- Korean Folk Village
- National Museum of Korea
- N Seoul Tower
- Namsan Cable Car
- Hangang River Ferry Cruise
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
- Lotte World
To see the complete list of attractions and shops open during the Seollal, visit:
Photos are taken from Flickr Commons
Written by Krew Member Jean Singian