Happy New Year!
Now it’s real 2010 for Koreans. Although this year, New Year holiday was bit short due to red-letter day fell on weekend. Still whole Korean went to their hometown to see their family and celebrate together. In Korea, two times a year, whole Korean people move around the country causing serious traffic jam. One time is Korean Thanks giving day (추석) and the other one is Lunar New Year. (설)
People would usually gather at either first son’s house or where grandpa or grandma’s stays. Day before the New Year, people would gather at appointed house and exchange gifts. (It can be defer depends on family traditions) Then women start cooking and Men usually sit and talk about their life, politic or play with kids. For married couple, people would go to husband’s family first and go to wife’s family day after.
Gifts to exchange Korean cookies (left) Ham (right)
How Korean celebrate New Year can be slightly different according to each family’s tradition and regional differences. Here i will be talk based on my family but it can not be too wrong or different than others.
On the New Year’s Day, first thing most of Korean people would do is to greet to their ancestor. People would sincerely prepare food for their ancestors and do ceremonial bow. In Korea, if you bow once to normal people and bow twice for dead people. This ceremony would probably take about 20 minutes but it depends how many men they have in the house because every man need to serve drinks to ancestor and do bow.
Greeting to Ancestors
After the ceremony, all the family would gather and have breakfast with special New Year food called ‘떡국’. (See photo right) Only after you eat this special dish, you would gain another age. So my uncle used to joke that if I eat two dishes I would gain 2 years rather than one year.
When breakfast is over, now it’s time to greet among alive people. Usually grandma and grandpa would sit and all the people would do bow saying happy New Year and have lots of luck. Then grandparents would say good words to their children and give children with bit of money. Kids are very looking forward to this moment, since this is the time when they can gain pocket money.
Note: if grandparents or parents are sick, one do not bow. If you bow to sick person, it represnt wishing dead in Korea.
Kids bowing to grandparents wishing happy New Year and getting moeny in return
After greeting is finished, men go to their ancestor’s grave. Once again we do bow twice infront of tomb and tidy up the tomb. This year, I also followed my father and said New Year greeting to my grandfather who passed away when I was 2 years old.
Then most important ceremony is done. Then all the family have fun either do Korean traditional game (윷놀이 yut game) or Korean flower card. Kids are busy playing with snow outside with their cheek turned into red. Sadly this year, due to short holiday, we need to head home early than used to be, otherwise, will be stuck in the traffic jam all the way.
Flower card (left) Yut game (right)
Due to long drive and addtional cooking work for women, it is bit tiry to go to hometown. But still it is good to be home and see whole family. There is nowhere like home.