Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lunar New Year

This past weekend, on Sunday and Monday, was the celebration of Seolnal, or Lunar New Year. If you are not familiar with what Lunar New Year means, it is the start of a new year as marked by the lunar calendar, as opposed to January 1st which marks the new year on the solar calendar. This year, Seolnal also fell on Valentine's Day (a post on that topic to come at a later date), which created an interesting dynamic between the consumerism of Valentine's Day and the traditionalism of Lunar New Year.

On Seolnal, like on Chuseok, most Koreans travel to meet their families. Although for most this means leaving Seoul and heading to the countryside, it is becoming more common for families to come into the city on holidays. In residential areas of the city like Mokdong (where I live), this means an almost complete shutdown for two days of all businesses that aren't McDonald's or the school I work for.

Again like Chuseok, Seolnal involves paying respect to your ancestors. Typically, Koreans wear new clothes or Korean traditional clothing called hanbok to mark the day, and many families play a traditional stick game called yut. However, if you're young the day can become quite a payday as older relatives give you pocket money for wishing them a happy new year. I'm not talking about petty change either; the average student of mine made out with about $200 this past weekend.

새해 복 많이 받으세요!

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