Korean New Year… “SEOLLAL” aka 'Lunar New Year'

 “Seollal” known as Lunar New Year in Australia is one of the most celebrated national holidays in Korea along with Chuseok.

In this sense, Korean people are quite offended with the term “Chinese New Year” widely used in Australia.

Rather, they are of a strong view that Lunar New Year is the most proper description of the occasion as it has been celebrated by the both countries including some other Asian countries.

In this sense, the Korean communities in Australia have been campaigning for the proper designation of the terms.

Seollal usually lasts for 3 days in Korea: the day of, the day before, and the day after. This year (2018), Seollal falls on 16th of February.

Seollal is more than just a holiday to mark the beginning of the New Year. Seollal is truly a special occasion for Korean people.

Not only is it a time for paying respect to ancestors, but also an opportunity to catch up with other family members and old friends at hometown.

Then it is not unusual to see people in beautiful Hanbok (traditional costume, the top image) performing ancestral rites or playing folk games, to eat delicious traditional foods, and to hear stories and chatters well into the night.

Food during Seollal is taken very seriously. Families spend the entire day before Seollal preparing food to be used as offering to ancestors as well as to be served to the family members.

The most representative food is Tteokguk (rice cake soup) other include Galbi Jjim (braised short ribs), Japchae, and Jeon(Korean pancake) etc.

Tteokguk(rice cake soup)


Galbi Jjim(braised short ribs)

Jeon(Korean pancake)

The morning of Seollal begins with an ancestral rite. Family members dressed in brand new Hanbok, gather in front of the ritual table, and set it with an ancestral tablet and dished of ritual food according to the strict custom of ancestral rites.

This practice used to be carried out only by male members of the family. In addition the tradition has been significantly eclipsed by the influence Christianity.

Once set, the rite begins with deep bows as greeting to the ancestor spirits and proceeds with offerings and prayers before ending with bidding farewell to the spirits.

Following the rite, everyone eats the ritual foods. Tteokguk (rice cake soup) is the main food of Seollal.

In fact the consumption of a bowl of Theokguk is believed to add a year to one age. People often ask each other, “How many servings of Tteokguk have you had?” as a fun way to ask each other’s age.

After the meal, the younger generations of a family pay respect to their elders by taking a deep bow, and by presenting with gifts.

The elders, then, offer their blessings and withes for a prosperous year, Children often receive Sebaetdon (New year’s special allowance) which is supposed to be kept in a traditional lucky pouch.


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