Korean New Years Celebration

    Korean New Years Celebration

    How staff member Alex James celebrated Korean New Year.

    Korean New Year or Seollal is somewhat similar to Chinese New Year, but there are some distinct differences.  I am a Korean American student at Assumption and I celebrate Seollal every year for three days in February.  Chinese New Year is celebrated for a whole month, but just because Seollal is three days, doesn’t mean there is not just as much to celebrate.  There are two very significant events involved in Seollal that I will be sharing today.

    The first event is called Charye.  This event is about honoring ancestors and is traditionally preformed in a shrine called Sadang.  Female members of the family cook the food and serve them to male family members first, then the children, and finally the women.  Everyone, no matter the sex, must wait until everyone has been served and then participate in the most significant part of the event, Eumbok.  Eumbok is when the ancestors bless the coming year.  Eumbok is fulfilled simply by eating the prepared food.  I have not formally participated in this tradition, but my family does believe we become blessed while eating our Seollal meal.

    The second event is the eating of Tteokguk.  Tteokguk is a soup consisting of egg, seaweed, meat, rice cakes, and broth.  This soup is extremely special because eating the soup means aging.  Unlike other cultures where everyone has a unique birthday, traditionally, Koreans have one birthday. This tradition varies from family to family, but I was taught that when I eat the soup another year is added onto my age.  As a kid, this always made me happy because my family was connected through sharing one giant birthday.  Not only that, but Tteokguk is my favorite soup, so Seollal is very enjoyable to me.

    These events are only two of many that happen during the three days of Seollal, but they are my two favorites to celebrate and learn about.

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