Lunar New Year traditions

Lunar New Year is the most important traditional holiday in Korea. Many people return to their hometowns to visit their parents and other relatives for the holiday. Among other traditions, we perform an ancestral ritual called “charye,” preparing fine foods and honoring our ancestors. We get up earlier than usual on the Lunar New Year and dress up in colorful traditional Korean clothing called “hanbok.”
For breakfast we eat “tteokguk,” soup with sliced rice cakes. We say that once we’ve finish eating tteokguk, we have gotten a year older.

Korean Culture day food

After breakfast, children wish their elders a happy New Year by performing a traditional deep bow and saying, “Have a blessed New Year.” The elders reward this by giving the children New Year’s money in luck bags made with beautiful silk designs and offering “deokdam,” or words of wisdom and well-wishing. Parents and grandparents might say, “I wish you health and no troubles,” or “I hope you get into the college of your dreams.”

Then family members get together to play “yunnori,” a traditional board game. Usually men and boys fly rectangle kites called “yeonnalligi,” and play “jegichagi,” a game in which a light object is wrapped in paper or cloth, and then kicked in a football-like manner. Women and girls play “neolttwigi” – a game of jumping on a seesaw.

Maybe traditional Koran culture seems complicated, but whenever I recall the days of Lunar New Year in Korea, it was always fun, warm, and exciting!

Written by: Mee Ran Hong