Tonight marks the eve of the Lunar New Year, and celebrations around the world are well underway. The Lunar New Year festivities in Korea are very short compared to many other places, they're just three days long! But there's still a lot to pack into Korea's Seollal celebration.
The first night of Seollal is the eve of the Lunar New Year, with celebrations continuing through through the next two days. Besides gifts to your family, the work culture in Korea means you often give gifts to your coworkers and employees as well. Families gather in their hometowns to honor their ancestors ("charye"), and children greet the adults of their family with very deep, traditional bows after dinner ("sebae"). Food traditions vary by region, but there's a universal tradition surrounding tteokguk in South Korea (its equivalent in North Korea is manduguk).
Each Lunar New Year is the equivalent of a birthday in Korea, so Seollal is the new year, your family reunion, and your birthday, and everyone else's birthday, all rolled into one! When you are born in Korea, everyone starts off at one year old (the year you spent in the womb counts), and then everyone becomes a year older on the day of Seollal. Some traditions say you only age after eating a delicious bowl of tteokguk, or rice cake soup, on new year's day, so it's an extra special dish for children!
Colorful hanbok (traditional Korean outfits dating back to the Joseon Dynasty and earlier) are often seen at significant events and milestones like weddings throughout the year, but it is traditional to wear a brand new hanbok for the first time at Seollal. For some families, this may mean renting them (as brand new outfits can be quite expensive), but it makes the celebration extra special.
We barely scratched the surface with many of these traditions, as some of them go back a thousand years or more, but we hope we were able to help everyone get a glimpse of the rich culture of each country we visited this week. Once again, we at Immortal Studios would like to wish everyone happiness and prosperity in the new year as the celebrations begin!
by S. Sifton
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