새해복 많이 받으세요! Happy Lunar New Year! February 3rd is 설날, or Lunar New Year in Korea!
Traditionally, families meet up at the head of the family’s house for New Years. This usually means a Grandpa or someone similar.
From what I understand, my family makes a slightly bigger deal of New Years because we all live relatively close to each other. We take the whole day to celebrate, where some other families may just visit their grandparents in the evening.
Our New Years starts by going to an aunt’s house (My dad was the only boy in the family) to pay our respects to those deceased. This involves laying out a full meal and everyone pouring shots for our ancestors. (If you don’t know already, Koreans love to drink.) This is usually done by generation, with each generation collectively pouring one shot. For example, my brother, my cousins, and I would all help pour one shot for our ancestor.
Afterwards, we eat lunch, always involving 떡국. Ddukguk can be prepared in a lot of ways, but my family keeps it simple. Usually, it’s just Korean rice cakes, dumplings, and egg drops in the soup.
The kids then perform 세배. 세배 is paying respects to your living elders, like aunts and uncles, grandparents, and parents. Kids have to do a full traditional bow and listen to their elders give out advice. It is important that while you’re bowing, you can either wish them a happy new year (새해복 많이 받으세요) or good health (건강 하세요) or both. After the advice that we don’t listen to (kidding.) they give us money to celebrate the New Year. The amount is whatever they see appropriate, but if you have a fairly large family, you can come up with a lot of profit.
The bow is slightly more complicated than just getting on your knees and putting your head down. There’s a certain code of etiquette that must be followed, though not many people mind anymore. Most everyone uses the male version of the bow when doing sebae, but if you’re a lady wearing a dress or hanbok, there’s another way of bowing without getting your clothes dirty. Check this video out courtesy of koreanclass101.com to see it in action.
click here for video; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNK_FAUAsmo&feature=player_embedded
My family doesn’t really play that many traditional games for New Years anymore for a variety of reasons, but we used to play a lot of Yut No Ri or, as it is now romanized as, yunnori. The rules of yunnori are complicated and I’m not even sure if I can play it anymore, but it involves a circular board, four playable pieces, a mat or blanket, and four semi-rounded sticks. The sticks act like dice, telling you how far you can move one of your pieces. The goal of the game is to get all four of your pieces around the board without getting eaten.