Seolnal (설날), known in the U.S. as lunar new year, is the second most important holiday in Korea with only Chuseok ranked as more important. While it falls on the same day that the Chinese celebrate the lunar new year–in 2011 it’s today, Feb. 3–Koreans have their own unique way of celebrating this important day.
Later in the post I’ll provide some information and links about how the holiday is celebrated in Korea. But since part of my mission with this blog is to give adoptive families ideas about how to celebrate Korean holidays in their homes, I’ll start with some of those ideas.
Thus far in our house, we’ve celebrated the holidays with ddeokguk (post on Jan. 30 and under Food, Recipes) and playing yut nori (post on Sept. 9 and under Culture, Games). This year I think we’ll add the sehbeh tradition (post on Jan. 20 and under Culture). We also read The Next New Year, and this year I’ll add New Clothes for New Year’s Day.
It seems that every year we add one or two things to our Korean holiday celebrations. And, of course, it gets easier every year as our son gets older and more into the celebrations. In addition to what we do as a family, we also sometimes get together with other Asian adoptive families and share about Korean traditions. And this year the Sunday before we played yut and learned more about the holiday at our Korean class for adoptive families. I would love to know how some of you celebrate the Seolnal holiday with your family.
This page on the Korea Tourism site has wonderful information about how the holiday is celebrated in the Republic of Korea. No need for me to explain it when it’s all here for you to read for yourself. http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=941952
But just a little more on chare, or chesa, performed at both Seolnal and Chuseok. This practice is one of memorial or ancestral rites, a way to honor and show respect for past generations. This practice involves placing food on a table in a certain order and bowing in respect before the table. The only difference between the table setup on the two holidays is that for Seolnal the rice is replaced with ddeokguk (rice cake soup).
This PDF lesson plan on Seolnal shows the layout of the chesa table, plus has lots more information that you might find useful.
And here’s another site with lots of details about Seolnal celebrations. http://fnk.ca/board/coffee-lounge/41479-korean-new-year-cultural-read.html
I hope everyone has a wonderful Seolnal. 새해 복 많이 받으세요!