Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year : Bring on 2012

or not quite yet if you're Korean! As many of us have gradually started to settle in to 2012, despite all the doom and gloom we're told it will bring, many Koreans are still yet to fully join in.

Most Koreans now follow and celebrate New Years Day according to the regular ('solar') calendar that we follow in the West, however, many more still choose to celebrate the traditional holiday of 설날 (Seol-nal), which marks the first day of the Lunar calendar. The celebrations for 설날 last for three days and serve as an opportunity for Koreans to return to their hometowns for family gatherings to perform ancestral rituals. Regarded as one of the most important holidays, 설날 provides a great opportunity to get together, get dressed up in Korean traditional clothing (a hanbok) and to eat yummy 떡국 (ddeok-guk - rice cake soup).

Many celebrities release pictures in traditional dress: here's 소녀시대  aka  Girls Generation in hanboks
And the male hanbok...kindly modelled by 샤이니 aka Shinee...

New Years is also a time for the expression of filial piety - or paying respects to your parents. In this time, while wearing the hanbok, children perform a deep bow to their elders and say 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae-hae bok man-i bad-eu-se-yo) which translates into something along the lines of "(I wish you) a happy new year".
In return, the children are given gifts, historically of fruit and rice cake but now, also of money and words of wisdom.

This year, 설날 will be falling on Monday 23rd of January giving you lots of time to prepare for the festivities! This Korean holiday is really all about getting together, eating well and celebrating the start of the New Year. As for me, I'll probably be back home for the weekend and I've decided to learn to make 떡국! How will you be celebrating?

Here's 떡국 : this is what I'm going to try and make! 

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