Korean New Year: Celebration of the Lunar New Year

In Korea, the new year is celebrated on the first new moon of the new year. This date can vary from January to February. Korean people will wish each other a happy new year and visit their family members. They also love to eat tteokguk (rice cake soup). Korean new years are an important celebration for families and friends because it is a time when they come together, share good food and cheer for a prosperous new year ahead!

  • What is the Korean New Year, “Seollal”?

The first day of the Lunar calendar, known as “Seollal,” is a major holiday in Korea. Along with Chuseok, it’s one of Korea’s most famed festivals.

It’s called Charye in Korean and takes place on Seollal, the entire family comes together to pay tribute to the forefathers. It’s a ceremony observed on national holidays or birthdays of ancestors in order to thank them.

And Korean eat tteokguk (rice cake soup) and play traditional games to commemorate the holidays.

However, due to the growing popularity of the solar calendar and the waning importance of the lunar calendar, more and more individuals are choosing Seollal just as their holiday. As a result, on January 1st of the solar year, events are organized to commemorate the start of the new year, rather than celebrating its first day in Lunar New Year traditions.

  • How does Seollal compare to other cultures’ celebrations of the Lunar New Year?

The Lunar New Year is a significant holiday in East Asian countries. In China and Vietnam, they are known as Spring Festival (春節) and Tet (Tết). The Japanese Lunar New Year was held on the same day as Shogatsu, but after the Meiji Restoration in 1873, the lunar calendar was phased out and the solar calendar was implemented. As a result, Japan no longer celebrates the Lunar New Year. January 1st of the solar calendar is also a major holiday in North Korea, and January 1st of the lunar calendar has not been long since it was made a public holiday. North Korea refers to the solar calendar as “New Year’s Day” and takes a day off on Lunar New Year’s Day.

In English, the entire Lunar New Year is known as “Lunar New Year,” whereas “Korean New Year” refers to only the Korean New Year, and “Chinese New Year” refers to simply Chinese New Years. Typically, people use the phrase “Chinese New Years.” Many Westerners are aware of the Lunar New Year, however rather than learning about Asian culture, they learn about it through activities geared toward Chinese people with a large population, as a result of which they only know the Chinese New Year. However, this varies from nation to nation.


  • Customs and traditions on Seollal

On lunar new year’s day, there are many traditions, including memorial ceremony (charye), New Year’s bow (sebae), tteokguk eating, wearing new clothes (seolbim), blessings on food (deokdam), hanging bokjori, yutnori, and so on.

Sebae is also said to be the Lunar New Year’s representative custom. Every family member change into his or her wardrobe early in the morning, and after the ceremony, they arrange their seats and sit down. They begin their greetings for the new year by bowing down to their grandparents and parents first, and then bow to their betters to welcome in the new year.

Rituals are sometimes not held according to religious or family norms.

However, with the epidemic continuing, it has become more desirable to stay at home safely and send greetings by phone rather than going back home.

  • The food eaten on Seollal

Tteokguk is a traditional Korean dish that is eaten on New Year’s Day. In Korea, eating a bowl of tteokguk also means having one year older.

It is also said that tteokguk contains a wish for longevity and wealth since it is prepared from long, circular cylindrical rice cakes known as garaetteok.

Dumplings, sweet rice with nuts and jujubes, Injeolmi, galbijjim, slices of boiled meat (pyeonyuk), mung-bean pancake (bindaetteok), korean pancake (jeon), seasoned vegetables, cinnamon punch (sujeonggwa), and sweet rice drink (sikhye) are other popular foods during the holiday.

However, as the epidemic wore on, more and more people stayed at home in the Lunar New Year without returning to their hometown. As a result, rather of serving numerous meals like before, there is a trend to simplify and serve food.

These days, with the rise of convenience and prepared foods, holiday food has also been marketed as a convenience meal or culinary assembly kit.

  • Traditional games on Seollal

Games such as yutnori, neolttwigi (Korean jumping game similar to see-sawing), and kiteflying are enjoyed by the entire family on Seollal.

Yutnori is the most popular game on Seollal. Yutnori is simple to learn and can be enjoyed by anybody. The yutgarak is constructed of cut wood, with one side round and the other flat. Yutgarak is used as a dice, with the number of moves varying according on the amount of yutgarak rolls. The one who goes around the board first wins.

Kite flying is a game in which the winner is the person who breaks their opponent’s kite first while flying a kite.

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Korean New Year. Are your country’s celebrations similar? If not, what are some ways that people celebrate in your neck of the woods? Let us know below!

Happy New Year 🥳

새해 복 많이 받으세요 🤗

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