Celebrate Lunar New Year: Seollal edition

Artsy Dinos

As part of our celebrate the Lunar New Year series, we've asked a few of our blogger/IG momma friends simple questions about how they celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Today, we bring you Sandy, who celebrates Korean New Year, or Seollal.

Hello! I’m Sandy, and my husband and I are currently raising three 3rd generation kiddos ages 1-6 in the Unites States. I was born in Korea, moved to the States when young, and had not celebrated Korean New Year or Seollal (설날) ever since...until this year!

When I think of Seollal, I think of three things: the food, the clothes, and the games.

Food: Almost all Koreans eat rice cake soup or ttuk gook (떡국) on this day. Many also eat it on January 1st. The rice cakes symbolize good luck and prosperity because they are round like coins. Everyone greets each other with “Se-heh bok mahnee badeu seyo” which means “May you have much luck/blessing this new year!”

Clothes: I love the beautiful and colorful traditional clothing of Korea, hanbok! Women have tops and skirts, and men have tops and pants, although nowadays many men wear suits instead. Children do a full respectful bow to all their elders, and receive money to fill their pretty ‘lucky bags’.

Games: The game of the day is called yutnori, which literally means ‘playing with sticks.’ Four sticks are thrown like dice to determine moves around a board game. This is a loud and intense game! There are also other traditional activities like Nul Jump (similar to see-sawing but standing), Tu-ho (also called Pitch Pot, where you throw small arrow-like sticks), and Jae-ghi (similar to hacky sack) just to name a few.

Seollal is a three day affair in South Korea. The bustling capitol city of Seoul quiets down as many people return to their hometown to spend time with family and remember deceased family members. I’m not sure how many Korean-American families celebrate Seollal anymore because many of the traditional activities are done on January 1st now.

While I have focused on passing on the Korean language to my children, I recently realized there are not many opportunities to expose them to the culture and heritage, and finally decided to Celebrate Seollal to connect them (and us, the parents!) to their heritage. We spent most of January learning about Korean New Year traditions and zodiac animals, and did related crafts and activities. I posted what we did on my instagram @korean4mykids in hope that other families would find encouragement and resources to celebrate their heritage culture and language!

Thank you Sandy for sharing how you celebrate! Follow Sandy's Instagram where she talks about being a homeschool momma teaching her kids about their Korean language and heritage, @korean4mykids!

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