Lunar New Year 2022 - Year of the Tiger

Monday, January 31, 2022

Happy Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year, Everyone! Or should I say 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae-hae-bok-manh-ē-bahd-i-sae-yo)!

The Lunar New Year is called Seollal (설날) in Korea and is a national holiday. It is one of two of the most important holidays, typically taking 3 days off. 

This year, Lunar New Year falls on February 1, 2022 and it is the year of the black water tiger, which is pretty exciting considering how revered the tiger is in Korea.   

Characteristics of Those Born in the Year of the Tiger

A common question asked in Korea is what your Zodiac animal is. I find it quite entertaining reading up on the characteristics of each animal and tend to laugh when I see similarities in the personalities described with the person I'm thinking about. There are a lot of Koreans that are interested in a person's animal zodiac as it gives them an idea of what that person's personality is like. 

Tigers possess character traits like bravery, competitiveness, and unpredictability. They enjoy challenges and are born to lead but if they're not in charge, they can be quite stubborn. Intelligent and alert, they are well-liked by many.

On This Day...

On Lunar New Year, I am sure that you have seen Koreans wearing their traditional dresses which are well-known as the hanbok (한복). But on Lunar New Year, we call it seolbim (설빔) or sejang (세장). It is on this day that a new traditional dress is worn to welcome the new year with a fresh start and casting away what is old.
I was hoping to have a new jeogori (저고리, top piece of the dress) made in time for the new year. Unfortunately, my firstborn got sick and had a fever. Fearing that it was covid, I decided to cancel my appointment at the shop and quarantined my family instead.

On Seollal, it is customary to perform sebae (세배). Sebae is the act of bowing down to our elders. It is not the same kind of bowing we do when we are greeting people. It is a kind of deep bowing where you kneel and bow down with your hands on the floor. This bow is a sign of deep respect for your elders. 

As you perform your sebae, you wish the elders you're bowing to a happy new year by saying 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae-hae-bok-manh-ē-bahd-i-sae-yo). Typically, the elders will give you some wise words, wishes, and maybe even a little bit of money. One that I heard year after year growing up was to study hard and make the family proud.

Growing up in the States, we performed this sebae on January 1 being that the New Year is a holiday here. Performing sebae was not convenient on Lunar New Year since it's not a holiday celebrated in the States.

When my kids arrived, my father made sure to remind me every year around Seollal to teach my kids about this holiday and to practice the customs of our country. I've made sure to prep broth for the traditional food we eat on this day which I'll talk about in a little bit. 

Seollal is a such a memorable day, spending quality time with family. Again, because we live in the States, it is not very convenient for us to have extended family time where we can eat, play games, and do customary things since members of extended family are either in schoool or working. 

Being that my immediate family is a homeschooling family, we will be enjoying our day with food and some traditional games. This year, I'll be focusing on teaching my kids the game of yut-nori. 


Tteokguk- 떡국

Tteokguk (떡국; dduk-gook, rice cake soup) is traditionally eaten on Seollal. Eating a bowl of this yummy soup meant gaining a year in age as well as bringing good luck for the year.

Gaining a year in age means that I'll be turning 38 based on Korean age even though I've only turned 36 in December! To calculate your age in Korean, here's the formula: 

Current year - birth year + 1 = your Korean age.

How old are you this Seollal?



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