Do Korean celebrate Lunar New Year? Absolutely! The Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in Korea and is celebrated with a variety of traditions, customs, and celebrations. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history and culture of the Lunar New Year celebration in Korea and provide some insight into how it is celebrated today.
Introduction to Korean Lunar New Year
The Lunar New Year, also known as Seollal, is celebrated in Korea each year on the first day of the Lunar Calendar. This is a time of renewal and reflection, as well as a chance to celebrate with family and friends. The celebrations usually last between three and seven days, depending on the region.
Seollal is a time of celebrating the past and looking forward to the future. It is a time to remember the ancestors, pay respect to elders, and give thanks for the blessings of the previous year. Koreans also take the opportunity to spend time with family, exchange gifts, and enjoy traditional food.
Today, Seollal is a national holiday in South Korea and is celebrated by both young and old. Many traditional customs and practices are still followed, such as performing ancestral rituals, preparing traditional foods, and playing traditional games. The most common practice is “charye” which is a ritual ceremony performed by families to honor their ancestors. Families gather together to prepare and offer food, fruits and other ritual items to their ancestors’ spirits.
History of Seollal in South Korea
During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Seollal became an important occasion for Confucian rituals and ceremonies. Families would gather together to perform ancestral rituals and exchange gifts. The ruling class would also participate in official ceremonies at the royal court, such as the Gaehwadaeje, a ceremony where the king would perform rituals to pay homage to his ancestors
Korean Lunar New Year Celebrations & Traditions
Seollal is a time of many traditions and customs. One of the most important is the ancestral memorial service, where Koreans pay their respects to the dead by visiting their graves and offering prayers for their ancestors’ guidance and protection.
Koreans also wear traditional clothing for the holiday, known as hanbok,. This is a colorful, traditional Korean garment that is worn for special occasions. People often wear hanbok to honor their ancestors and to show respect for traditional values.
On the day of Seollal, people also take part in special activities such as playing traditional games and performing the kite-flying ceremony, which is believed to bring luck and good fortune, visiting the Ancestral Tomb, practice charye. Let’s take a deep look into it.
Charye, also known as ancestor memorial service, is a traditional ritual ceremony performed by families during the Seollal holiday in South Korea. The ceremony is performed to honor the spirits of deceased ancestors and pay respects to them.
The ritual typically begins with the preparation of a special altar or table, where offerings of food, fruits, and other ritual items are placed. The food offerings are typically traditional Korean dishes such as rice cakes, fruits, and meat dishes. The offerings are arranged in a specific way, with the eldest son or eldest male member of the family leading the ceremony.
During the ceremony, the family members will bow and make offerings to the ancestors, and often recite a traditional prayer or chant. The eldest son or eldest male member will then lead the family in a prayer, asking for blessings and guidance from the ancestors. After the ceremony, the family will share the food offerings with one another and with any guests that may be present.
Charye is considered an important tradition in Korean culture, as it allows families to honor and remember their ancestors and to come together to celebrate the Seollal holiday. Many families continue to perform this ritual ceremony, even if they no longer have a traditional ancestral altar or an eldest son or eldest male member.
The Charye is also an opportunity to reflect on the past and the values that their ancestors passed down, and to remind themselves of the importance of keeping those values and traditions alive.
The kite-flying ceremony, also known as “yeon-nalligi,” is a traditional activity that is often performed during the Seollal holiday in South Korea. It is believed to have originated from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), where it was considered a way to communicate with the gods and ancestors.
The ceremony typically involves the construction and flying of traditional Korean kites, which are often made of paper and bamboo. The kites are typically decorated with traditional symbols and motifs, such as dragons and phoenixes, which are believed to bring good luck and fortune.
The kite-flying ceremony is often performed in an open field or on a hill, where the wind is strong enough to allow the kites to fly high into the sky. The ceremony typically begins with a ritual offering to the gods and ancestors, after which the kites are launched into the sky. The kite-flying ceremony is considered to be a way to connect with the ancestors and the spirits of nature, and to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.
The kite-flying ceremony is not widely practiced as it was in the past, but it is still popular in some rural areas and is also featured in several festivals and events throughout the year. The act of flying kites is also seen as a traditional activity to do during the spring and many families and friends gather to fly kites.
Overall, the kite-flying ceremony is an interesting tradition that has been passed down through generations in South Korea, and it is a unique way to celebrate the Seollal holiday and to connect with the ancestors, spirits of nature, and to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.
Hanbok is the traditional Korean clothing worn for special occasions and ceremonies in South Korea. It is characterized by its vibrant colors, simple lines, and distinctive silhouette. Hanbok consists of a top and bottom garment, with the top being the jeogori, a collarless blouse that fastens with a knot at the front, and the bottom being the chima, a full-length skirt. Men also wear baji which are pants.
The hanbok has evolved over time but it still maintains its traditional features and it is worn on special occasions such as weddings, traditional holidays and festivals, and during traditional ceremonies like the first birthday of a child, the 60th birthday of an adult, and the 100th birthday of a senior.
Hanbok is made of lightweight and breathable materials, such as linen or silk, which makes it comfortable to wear in warm weather. It is also adorned with intricate embroidery and embellishments, such as beadwork, that reflect the wealth and status of the wearer.
The color of hanbok also holds a symbolic meaning, with bright colors like red and pink symbolizing good luck and happiness, while dark colors like navy blue and black symbolize formality and respect.
The Jeongwol Daeboreum Festival is an annual traditional Korean festival celebrated on the 15th day of the first lunar month. This festival is one of the most important celebrations in the Korean calendar, and has been celebrated since the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The festival marks the first full moon of the lunar year and is believed to bring luck and prosperity to the nation.
The celebration of the Jeongwol Daeboreum Festival is said to have originated from an ancient ritual known as Gyeongi, which was held to celebrate the changing of the seasons. During this ritual, the king would offer sacrifices to the gods and ask for a plentiful harvest. People would gather around a large bonfire to celebrate the full moon and its blessings. Today, the Jeongwol Daeboreum Festival is celebrated with a variety of activities, such as firework displays, traditional games, and folk performances.
People also light bonfires and make offerings of food and drinks to the gods. In addition, a variety of snacks, such as roasted rice cake, candied chestnuts, and dried seaweed, are shared among family and friends. The festival is also a time for families to come together and celebrate the
Visit the Ancestral Tomb
Visiting the ancestral tomb, also known as Seongmyo or Charye, is an important part of celebrating the Korean Lunar New Year, or Seollal. During this time, families gather to pay their respects to the spirits of their deceased ancestors and to honor their memory.
The traditional ritual of visiting the ancestral tomb involves preparing an altar with offerings of food, fruits, and other ritual items. These offerings are believed to nourish the spirits of the ancestors and to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.
The head of the family or the eldest person in the family will perform the memorial service by bowing and making offerings. The family will then bow in respect and offer their condolences to the ancestors.
Visiting the ancestral tomb is also a time for families to come together, and many people choose to celebrate the holiday by having a big family meal and exchanging gifts.
The practice of visiting the ancestral tomb is an important way for people to connect with their past and to remember and honor the sacrifices and contributions of their ancestors. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of family and tradition in Korean culture.
Food Traditions for the Korean Lunar New Year
Food plays an important role in the celebrations of Seollal. Traditional foods are served in honor of the ancestors. These include tteokguk (rice cake soup), jeon (Korean pancakes), and gimjang (Korean kimchi).
Tteokguk is a soup made from beef broth and slices of chewy, white rice cakes. This is often served as a special treat on Seollal. Jeon is a type of savory pancake made with a variety of ingredients, such as seafood, vegetables, and meat. It is usually served as a side dish or as a snack. Gimjang is a type of Korean kimchi made with a variety of vegetables and spices.
Korean Lunar New Year Customs and Superstitions
In addition to the food and traditions, there are also a number of customs and superstitions associated with Seollal. It is believed that the first person to enter a house on the first day of the Lunar New Year will bring luck to the household for the entire year. As such, many people will try to be the first one to enter their house.
It is also believed that the first words spoken on Seollal will determine the tone for the coming year. For this reason, people often choose to say something positive and encouraging.
Another superstition is that the color of clothing worn on Seollal will affect one’s luck for the coming year. It is believed that wearing red and yellow will bring good luck.
Korean Lunar New Year Gifts
Exchanging gifts is another important part of Seollal celebrations. Gifts are usually exchanged between family members and friends. Popular gifts include traditional items such as food, clothes, and books.
Gift-giving is also an important part of the New Year’s Day ceremony. During this ceremony, people exchange tokens of appreciation and good wishes for the coming year.
Korean Lunar New Year Celebrations Across the Country
Seollal celebrations vary across the country. In the south, the celebrations tend to be more festive and lively, while in the north they are more subdued and somber. Korean Lunar New Year celebrations are not just confined to Korea. It is celebrated by Korean diaspora communities around the world, from the United States to Australia.
In the south, people often travel to visit relatives and friends. They may also take part in special activities such as kite-flying, traditional games, and lion dances. Fireworks and music can also be heard in the streets.
In the north, the celebrations tend to be more low-key. People visit ancestral graves and take part in ancestral memorial services. They may also exchange gifts, eat traditional foods, and enjoy folk performances.
What is the Korean Lunar New Year?
The Korean Lunar New Year, also known as Seollal, is a traditional holiday that marks the first day of the lunar calendar. It is a time for families to come together, to pay respects to their ancestors, and to celebrate the new year with traditional customs and practices.
When is the Korean Lunar New Year celebrated?
The Korean Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar, which usually falls in January or February.
How do modern Koreans celebrate the Korean Lunar New Year?
Modern Koreans celebrate the Korean Lunar New Year by participating in both traditional and contemporary customs. This includes visiting the ancestral tomb, making and flying kites, wearing traditional hanbok clothing, gift-giving, shopping, watching the annual Seollal special programs on television, and traveling.
What is the significance of the full moon in the celebration of the Korean Lunar New Year?
The full moon is considered a symbol of completeness and unity in Korean culture. It is celebrated as the Jeongwol Daeboruem, also known as the Great Full Moon Festival, and it is a time for people to give thanks for the harvest, to honor their ancestors, and to celebrate the full moon.
The Korean Lunar New Year is a time of renewal, reflection, and celebration. It is a time to honor the past and look forward to the future. This holiday is celebrated across Korea and around the world with a variety of traditions, customs, and activities. From wearing traditional clothing to exchanging gifts and participating in ancestral memorial services, there is something for everyone to enjoy during this special time. No matter how you choose to celebrate, the Korean Lunar New Year is sure to be a memorable and meaningful experience.