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Seollal 설날

Categories Korea, Living in Korea
Wow.  Lots and lots of catching up to do, but I'll start with Seollal.  Seollal marks the first day of the lunar calendar and it is the most important of the traditional Korean holidays.  A good friend (and student) of mine, Changmin invited me over to his family's house to celebrate Seollal in true Korean fashion.  Changmin's family welcomed me with open arms and we had a great time celebrating together.  On Saturday night I spent the evening with Changmin grilling up some beef for the family and on Sunday morning we prepared a ritual feast for the elders who have passed away.  We ate Tteokguk (soup with sliced rice cakes), which is a traditional Korean food that is customarily eaten for the New Year. According to Korean age reckoning, the Korean New Year is similar to a birthday for Koreans, and eating tteokguk is part of the birthday celebration. Once you finish eating your tteokguk, you are one year older.  As I mentioned, Seollal is a holiday based primarily around worshiping the family members who have come before and since passed away.  Typically on this holiday, children wish their elders (grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents) a happy new year by performing one deep traditional bow (rites with more than one bow involved are usually for the deceased) and the words saehae bok mani badeuseyo (새해 복 많이 받으세요) which translates to "receive many New Year blessings", or more loosely, "have a blessed New Year".  Parents typically reward this gesture by giving their children new year's money, or "pocket money", (usually in the form of crisp paper money) in luck bags made with beautiful silk design and offering words of wisdom, deokdam.  I was also forced to accept some of this pocket money...I was very reluctant but eventually took the money and was very appreciative for extra dough.
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Setting up the table for the meal
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Full meal set up. Everything has it's place
Paper wall set up behind the meal depicting the names of the family's ancestors
Paper wall set up behind the meal depicting the names of the family's ancestors
Changmin....beefin
Changmin....beefin
That's me....serving up the Tteukguk
That's me....serving up the Tteukguk
My "pocket money"
My "pocket money"

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