Seollal

While most of us celebrated New Year's on January 1st, Doug and I are celebrating New Year's again! Tomorrow marks the Lunar New Year, known as "Seollal" (or "Seol"). For the most part we're celebrating today since it's kind of hard to celebrate a holiday that isn't widely recognized in the US during the work week. Oh well. In Korea, Lunar New Year is one of the biggest holidays, and has many traditions associated with it. The main themes around the holiday are love of family, respect for ancestors, and wishes for health and prosperity.

Lunar New Year begins the eve before (as does our new year celebrations) and is called "Sut dal kum mum." There is said to be a belief that if someone sleeps on this night there eyebrows would turn white as snow. It was said that one should receive the brand new year with awake eyes full of brightness. I also hear that all the lights are left on in the house to encourage this. Earlier on New Year's Eve day, Koreans perform an overall cleaning to brush off the dust of the old year.

On New Year's Day, there are many rituals, including dressing in formal wear (hanboks), drinking liquor intended to better your hearing, setting the altar table of offering, giving gifts of fruit and money, playing games, and most importantly, spending time with family.

Doug and I celebrated by cooking a favorite Asian dish, complete with homemade Mandoo (dumplings), and reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the new year... over fortune cookies of course! (OK - so we borrowed that from another culture, but hey - it worked!)

So as we pass from the Year of the Rat to the Year of the Ox, we say  새해복많이 받으세요! which translates to "Sae-hae-bok-mani-ba-deu-sae-yo!" (I hope you have much good fortune in the New Year).