“새해 복 많이 받으세요.” (sehe phok maani phaduseyo). That is how you greet people on New Year in South Korea. Korean New Year is also referred to as Lunar New Year because it is the first day of Lunar calendar. Koreans call it 설날 (seollal). It is also celebrated in China as Chinese New Year.
It is the most important holiday in South Korea. It is celebrated for three days. This is the time when people get together with their families. They return to their hometowns to visit their parents and relatives. They wear traditional Korean clothing called 한복 (hanbok) and eat rice cake soup called 떡국 (tteokguk). There is also a tradition of playing 윷놀이 (yunnori) which is a family board game, played using different kinds of sticks. It is still a popular game. Buddhist Koreans visit temples and offer their prayings to Budhha on New Year.
Things have changed these days because of modernization, due to which not all the people follow the traditional way of celebrating New Year. They have their own way which is not a bad thing but I still believe one should not forget one’s culture.
Since there are a lot of foreigners in Korea, a lot of fairs and fun events are organized on New Year to allow them to experience Korean culture. I got to visit one of the fair at 광하문 (gwanghamun) and other places around Seoul. It was really amazing. Everybody was wearing Hanbok and there were stalls serving Korean traditional dishes. I felt like I was in ancient Korea for a second. I was having such a good time that I forgot everything else and didn’t take many pictures there.
If you are in Korea or plan to visit Korea, make sure you visit New Year fair because it is fun and also most of the restaurants and shops are closed on that day. Invite your friends to the fairs or tag along other foreigners and learn and share stories of your and their adventures in Korea. It is better than doing nothing. I am sure you will get to know more than what you expect. All my best wishes ! ! !
~Happy Korean New Year~