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Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Korean New Year - Seolnal!

Korean New Year, commonly known as Seolnal (Hangul: 설날; RR: Seolnal; MR: Sǒlnal), is the first day of the lunar calendar. It is falling on February 3rd this year. It is the most important of the traditional Korean holidays. The Korean New Year is celebrated for three days with great fervor in Korea and generally all over the "Chop-Stick Asia". It is commonly called the "Lunar New Year". In China, for this occassion, they have a 5 days holiday - almost everyone visit their hometowns and makes it the largest movemnet of people within a country ever recorded in the world. Even in Korea, all roads lead to "out of Seoul" destinations creating heavy traffic jams. During this time, Seoul looks like a haunted city. 80% of it's population leave the city to join family and friends back to their native towns.

As the New Year approaches, people exchange greetings by saying:" 새해복많이받으세요!"
This year will kick off as the 'Year of Rabbit' saying good-bye to the 'Year of the Tiger'!

The day has a lot of resemblance with the activities on Eid Day especially Eid ul Fitr. It all starts with the thanksgiving prayers and Sabae -New Year’s tradition of bowing to the elders in hanbok (Korean traditional clothes), paying respect to the dead (it is associated with filial piety), coming back home and share sweets and special delicacies of the day with relatives who gather at the residence of the eldest person in the family, words of wisdom (덕담)are shared with the kids and then money is given to the children by all the elders, indoor games are performed. A very distinct feature is that they all wear the traditional clothes which adds color to the whole event (Korean traditional clothes are very beautiful). Presents are shared on the day and special friends are invited.

A lot of cultural activities and events are organized by the Seoul Metropolitan Government such as special ceremonies at the palaces and Foreigner's Community Centers all over Korea.

Below is a translation from excerpts of a diary of friend's daughter who is attending a primary school- thanks Danbee - "네가 버거 사줄게요"!

오늘은 한국의 최고의 명절 설날이다.
Today is one of the most important Korean traditional holiday called Seolnal.

그러면서 어른들에게 덕담도 듣고 세배돈도 받는 날이다.
So we get to listen to the 'words of wisdom /advice' from the elders in our family and receive money from them on this day.

덕담보다는 세배돈에 더욱 관심이 가지만 말이다.
But I am more interested in the blessing money than the advice.

오늘은 제사를 드리는 날이다. 우리는 아침 8시에 제사를 드린다.
We pay respects to the deceased ancestors today. Usually this ceremony is performed at around eight o'clock.

시간이 되자 친척들이 도착하였다. 다들 오랜 만에 봐서인지 즐겁게 이야기를 하였다.
All the relatives get-together around this time. As they meet after a long time, they have a lot to talk about and chit- chat.

제사를 드리고 난 뒤 아침식사를 하였다. 정말 음식들이 많았고 그리고 맛도 좋았다.
We have breakfast after the ceremony of “Jaysa - paying respect to the dead ancestors”. There is a lot of food being prepaired today and it is so delicious.

요번 설날은 세배돈을 정말 많이 받았다.
I have received a lot of money on this Seolnal.

아침식사를 끝내고 윷놀이를 하였는데 내가 져서 벌금을 물었다.
After breakfast, we played “yutnuri” (a traditional game), I lost money because I couldn't win the game.

매번 느끼는 거지만 설날은 정말 기분이 좋은 날일 것이다.
Every time on Seolnal, I have a great feeling for the day-it is so much fun!

조상님께 1년의 행복을 기원하며 가족들과 함께 보내는 시간 앞으로도 설날의 행복이 이어졌으면 좋겠다.
I pray to have a happy and lucky year through my ancestors, I hope that the happiness of Seolnal day that we shared with our families continue for a whole year.

As far as I'm concerned, I love the idea of having two New Years back to back and having a day off and relax!

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