New Year’s celebrations:
The festive season may be over for many, but for many more – our celebrations have just begun; marking the start of a new year. However, while New Year falls on the first day of January for many cultures.; this is not strictly true across the world. In China, Chinese New Year begins in late February as they, like Korea, observe the lunar calendar.
New Year’s is a hotly anticipated holiday across Korea; Seollal also known as Lunar New Year falls on the second new moon after winter solstice. Sounds very magical, doesn’t it? The special occasion lasts for three days – the day before, the day of Seollal and the day after Seollal. This year Seollal/Lunar New Year falls on Tuesday 5th February, 2019.
Koreans look forward to the holiday because it is an opportunity to see their family and relatives (we wonder which K-celebrities will be travelling home this year…bring on the cute family pictures!) But there is a lot of preparation and things to do, so sit back and take notes to make the most of Seollal 2019.
Charye in Korean basically means performing an ancestral rite on a holiday like Seollal/New Year and Chuseok. This includes greeting the ancestor spirits with deep bows to express respect and gratitude.
Wear your finest hanbok on Seollal. The traditional Korean dress is usually worn on festive occasions or special anniversaries (for example their first birthday and their 60th birthday). The hanbok comes in vibrant colours such as red and blue and designs which has changed slowly but surely over the generations.
Rice cake soup called tteokguk is always served because it is thought to make everyone a year older. That’s right. Not only do you celebrate New Year but you celebrate your Korean birthday…which is everyone’s birthday. Make a joke with your grandfather by asking ‘how many servings of tteokguk have you had?’ to find out how old he is!
The rest of the day is spent storytelling and playing games. The most popular game is called Yutnori, a board game that involves throwing four wooden sticks. Team up with your siblings and become a champion of Yutnori this year.
The Year of the Pig:
This New Year marks the beginning of the year of the pig: In Korea, the dream of the pig represents both good fortune and wealth It is said that those born during this year are both outgoing and loyal, that they are both knowledgeable and curious. Many say that those born in the year of the pig are innately creative – being suited to the arts as opposed to academic pursuits. They are said to be loyal, though perhaps shy in a crowd. If you were born in the year of the pig, then your best friends are said to be Rabbits, Sheep, Dogs, and Dragons.
As with all signs of the Zodiac, each animal was given an hour over which they ought to preside; the Pig was tasked to governing the hours between 21:00pm to 22:59pm. For all the things you wish to enjoy and succeed in, these hours are said to be the best time to what you love most, as it is in these hours that Pig is said to succeed in all things.
It’s no surprise that those born in the Year of the Pig are said to be creative, as many of our favourite K-Idols were born during this year. If you happen to have been born in The Year of the Pig, these are the idols you happen to share your birth year with!
Seolhyun (AoA) Hwasa (MAMAMOO)
The team at Inspire Me Korea wishes you a very Happy New Year! Let us know whether you will try some of these Korean traditions.