New Year's Day


The New Year is one of the main holidays in Korea. The New Year is actually celebrated twice nowadays. Traditionally, Koreans celebrated 설날 Seollal--otherwise known as Lunar New Year (also commonly referred to as Chinese New Year in the USA). Due to western influence, Korea also now celebrates the New Year at the turn of the year from December to January. 

What tradition did I learn about?:

Perhaps the most important tradition that comes with the new year celebration in Korea is that of aging. Unlike in the United States, Koreans age up at the new year. My host mom invited me to spend January 1st with her and some other people by hiking up a mountain. It's traditional on the New Year to watch the sunrise. Since our town is surrounded by mountains, the best way of doing this was to hike! At the top of the mountain, there was a group of people and a man giving a speech. In the end, everyone released balloons and we all watched the sunrise. Once that was over, we participated in the second part of this tradition, which was to eat 만두 (mandu) dumpling soup. It is said that by eating a dumpling on the new year, you are gaining a year. Korean age is different from international age in that a baby is one year old when it is born. Then on New Years, everyone gains another year.