Korean New Year

People in Korea traditionally celebrate Seollal (Seolnal) or the lunar new year. Seollal celebrations last for three days. In 2012 the new year was on the 23rd of January. In 2013 the new year will be on the 10th of February.

Each year is named after one of 12 zodiac signs. The year 2012 is the Year of Dragon. Dragon symbolizes hope and courage. It is believed that people born in this year love adventures. They are romantic and kind.

The year 2013 will be the Year of Snake. The Snake is enigmatic and intuitive character. People born in this year are intelligent and wise. They are good in negotiating and business.

Koreans also honour the new year according to Gregorian calendar. This is known as Sinjeong. Still Seollal is more important in everyday life of the local population.

New year is the time of year when Koreans travel a lot. People usually visit their parents and cousins. During this visits special charye rituals are performed. This rituals are dedicated to four generations of family ancestors. Charye rituals are also part of several other Korean traditions like Chuseok, Hanshik and Tano.

The ancestral ritual is held in the morning of the new year's day. All family members get dressed in finest traditional clothes called hanbok. They gather in front of the ritual table. Ancestral tablet and food chosen according to the rules of this ritual are placed on the table. At the beginning of the ritual everyone makes deep bow and that way greets the ancestors.


During new year festivities Koreans enjoy in various traditional dishes. The most common one consumed for the occasion is the rice cake soup called tteogkuk. The Koeans once used the question "How many bowls of tteokguk have you eaten?" when wanting to find out person's age. Apart from tteogkuk people eat japchae (noodles with vegetables), pancakes, hangwa (sweets) etc.

After the meal young family members show respect to the elders. They make a deep bow and give the elders some gifts. Gifts are exchanged among family members and friends. Many give money but there are presents like dried fruits, ginseng, cosmetic products etc. New Year cards are very popular too.

New year is also celebrated by playing some traditional games like for example yutnori (a board game), go-stop (a card game), jegichagi and tuho. There are many spectacular New year shows available on tv. Not all Koreans stay in their homes. There are individuals who visit parks or have fun with flying kites (yeonnaligi).