새해 복 많이 받으세요 [se-he-bok-ma-ni-baa-de-se-yo]
Yes, happy new yearS to you all! I mean both solar and lunar new years. In Korea, lunar new year is called goojung or seol and is supposedly a bigger celebtaion. Similar to western culture, we eat lots of food, play games and exchange greetings on seol. My family used to celebrate seol when we were living in Korea, but after our move to the States, we opted to celebrate on January 1 instead simply because it's a better time for everyone to get together. So, these pictures are actually from our new year's celebration from January 1 this year.
There is a special rice cake soup called ttukook that we all (have to) eat on seol. When we were young, parents used to say you get a year older only if you eat a bowl of ttukook on the new year's day. The math was simple then - you get older as many bowls of ttukook as you eat. Of course, this used to be a pleasant pursuit when you are younger. From some time, I don't like having this thought any more. By the way, for those of you who have been waiting for a new recipe, how-to-make ttukook is coming soon.
There is another exciting tradition on seol (Well, it all depends on which side you belong to - payers or payees.) It's called sebe. Younger generations bow to the elderly on their knees and wish new year's greeting. Then the elderly give you sebedon, money in return for your sebe. It was so cute of my nine-month old niece to learn her first sebe this year.
On seol, you are supposed to get dressed in hanbok, traditional Korean costume. In old days when clothes were rare and relatively expensive, young children were given new clothes by their parents probably once a year and that was on seol; it's called seolbim. Nowadays when clothes are more than abundant, this tradition goes much unnoticed. Min and I dressed in hanbok last year on seol (shown in picture above), but this year we just went with our everyday clothes.
When all the family members are gathered on seol, you play yootnori, a board game usually played with four sticks. In some (serious) families, they opt to play Go-stop card games instead of yootnori. In yootnori, there are four sticks, or yoots, with front and back. Depending on how many backs and fronts you get when you toss, you walk your horse on the board just like in the Monopoly games. Whoever finishes early wins. It's as simple as that.