Seollal – the custom of welcoming Korean New Year


Offering offerings and worshiping ancestors, hanging “lucky shovels”, playing Yutnori, … are the unique Lunar New Year customs in the Korean Seollal.

In 1 year, Koreans have 2 big holidays: Seollal Chinese New Year and Chuseok Mid-Autumn Festival. In particular, Seollal is the occasion to mark the New Year, a time of reverence for ancestors and the opportunity to reunite with the family. They have the unique Lunar New Year customs as well as the Chinese or Vietnamese.

The Korean Seollal started on the 1st of the first lunar month and lasted for 3 days, but before that week, people started to prepare for the New Year.

Prepared before Tet

From the end of December, mothers and mothers will go to Tet markets to buy stored materials and celebrate the New Year’s Day, including meat, fish, fruits, etc., then prepare food, make tteok, scan clean the house.

People who go away start to buy gifts and Tet gifts to give to family members, relatives and friends. Gifts are usually food, fruits, ginseng, fish, honey, dried fish … There are also health products, personal belongings.

Koreans prepare Tet gifts to give to their relatives. Photo:

Most people who work in big cities come back to their hometowns to celebrate Tet. In recent years, there is a tendency to be parents in the countryside to go to the city to celebrate Tet with their children. Therefore, if you travel to the main cities of Korea on this occasion, you can still feel the joyful and bustling Tet atmosphere.

New Year’s Eve activities

Before New Year’s Eve, Koreans often bathe with hot water to remove the ceiling. Koreans will burn bamboo sticks to ward off evil spirits because they believe the explosion of bamboo rods helps to scare away demons. New Year’s Eve no one to sleep, this is an ancient tradition. They think that if you sleep, the next morning when you wake up, you will have white eyelashes, gray eyes.

Koreans place Bok-jo-ri “shovel buds” of straw in front of the gate to collect. According to them, doing so is to scoop the rice grains scattered outside the door, which also means they will receive blessings year round.

Koreans put straw-shovel Bok-jo-ri with straw in front of the house to catch. Photo:

Customs on the first day of the year

Koreans wear traditional Hanbok costumes to perform ancestral rituals, playing folk games during Seollal.

Koreans wear traditional Hanbok costumes during Tet. Photo:

Offering gifts on New Year’s Day are often emphasized. Families take a lot of time to make offerings. Koreans believe that if the food is delicious and beautifully presented, it will please the ancestors. There are about 20 different dishes displayed on the altar, depending on the region and customs.

Offering offerings to the fairy family. Photo:

In the past, food preparation was done by women in the family, but now there are services provided at reasonable prices, which helps Koreans save time and have peace of mind to celebrate New Year.

Ancestor worship ritual is the first thing to do on the first day. All family members must dress up, gather in front of the altar to bow to their ancestors, pray for a lucky and peaceful new year. .

Everyone bowed their heads to bow to their ancestors. Photo:

After the ancestor worship ceremony, everyone will gather together to eat the first meal for the new year. Indispensable dish on this occasion is tteokguk – traditional rice cake soup made from rice cakes, beef, eggs and vegetables. Only after eating tteokguk will Koreans grow one year older. Therefore, Koreans often ask each other happily by saying, “How many times have you eaten tteokguk?”

Koreans eat tteokguk on New Year’s Day. Photo:

After the meal, young people and children will bow to the elderly and give gifts. Grandparents will also wish their children a prosperous year. Adults will give children a happy birthday called sebaetdon. The rest of the day, the members would play folk games, eat and chat.

Young people bow to the New Year in the family. Photo:

The traditional game

Yutnori is a traditional game of Korean Seollal. Yutnori is similar to Vietnam’s seahorse flag. The player tosses 4 sticks to move. This game is quite easy so children and adults can play together, increasing the spirit of cohesion.

At the end of the day, everyone will watch TV specials broadcast during Tet.

Traveling to the Lunar New Year

It is rare for a long holiday of the year, so Koreans also often use the time of Tet to travel. They often go to the ski resorts or go to the spa, visit traditional villages, visit museums, palaces … and watch the shows.

Traveling to the Lunar New Year. Photo:

Big cities like Seoul during the Seollal Chinese New Year will be quieter and quieter than usual. However, museums, palaces and parks will still be open to visitors, so you can rest assured when you come here on this occasion. Some suggested destinations are Hanok Village, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Namsan TV Tower, Tam Thanh Triangle, Seoul History Museum, Art Center, Deoksugung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine Royal Shrine.

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