January 1st, the day that marks the new year. Seollal, of the Lunar New Years, falls on January 1st of the lunar calendar and is spent observing a few special traditions. Take a look below at some of these traditions and how locals wish for good luck for the upcoming year.
New Year's Bell
The bell-ringing ceremony is a special K-tradition that takes place on the last night of the year at the stroke of midnight at the Bosingak Pavilion in Seoul. Various year-end performances are held live, but as midnight approaches everything stops and the countdown begins. As the New Year begins, the bell rings loudly, and visitors can hear crowds of people simultaneously greeting one another, "Saehae bok manh-i badeuseyo," literally meaning,“I wish you lots of good luck in the New Year” but used to say “Happy New Year.”
Although it’s the same sun that rises everyday, watching the sunrise on the first morning of the new year has an extra special feeling. Many people search out the most beautiful places to watch the new year sunrise so that they can make their special wish upon the first light of the New Year.
New Year's Bow
On the first morning of the New Year, many Korean families wake up, shower, and put on new clothes. Younger members of the family bow and give greetings to the older members and give words of blessing for the upcoming year. After bowing, the children of the family receive a sort of "New Year's allowance" called "se-baet-don."
Rice Cake Soup
Rice cake soup, or "tteok-guk," is the representative food of the New Year, and Koreans will gather with their whole families to eat together. The long rice cake that is sliced and used symbolizes that of longevity. The tradition of eating rice cake soup on the first day of the year is unique in that if you eat one bowl of soup you will become one year older.
※ This article was written in December, 2021. Hours of operation may vary due to the government's quarantine guidelines. Please check before visiting.