By: Isabelle Yang
Korean New Year is coming up, and with COVID-19 cases on the rise, you may be wondering how you could celebrate such a holiday at home. Commonly known as Seollal, Korean Lunar New Year marks a significant holiday period, typically lasting for 3 days. In this article, we’ll guide you through the customs, food, and activities to consider when celebrating the holiday at home this year.
Pay Respect to Ancestors Through Zoom
Typically, families will clean their homes in preparation for a jesa, which is a ceremony to pay respect to the family’s ancestors. In order to avoid large family gatherings, you can instead celebrate and pay your respects through Zoom. Every respective family can cook their own family meals, and through Zoom, each person can bow to their ancestors, offering incense and drinks, and together, families can pray for good health, luck, and prosperity for the generations to come. Afterwards, families can feast and talk over the Zoom call. Although this certainly isn’t the same as celebrating together in person, it’s a great way to honor this major tradition while staying safe.
Traditional Seollal Foods
Despite not being able to celebrate with a large amount of people, you can still make delicious traditional Korean foods. The foods prepared by each family can differ; however, most Korean families will make tteokguk (rice cake soup). In Korea, eating tteokguk brings you good luck for the new year and reflects getting one year older. The whiteness of the soup and rice represent pure bodies, minds, and hearts coming into the New Year. If you’ve never made tteokguk and need direction, follow this great recipe.
In addition to tteokguk, many families will prepare jeon (battered and fried dishes) like meat jeon, fish jeon, nokdujeon, etc. If you like mung bean pancakes (nokdujeon), check outthis delicious recipe!
Other common dishes you may encounter are galbi jjim, japchae, pyeonyook, and bulgogi.
Of course, there’s also dessert. Some dishes include tteok (rice cakes), gangjeong, yakgwa, sujeonggwa, sikhye, and more. Here’s asikhye recipe that you can follow!
One of the most important traditions for a child during Seollal is Sebae. Sebae is a ritual in which young children pay their respects to their elders with a traditional bow. For this year’s Seollal, children can still dress up in traditional, colorful hanboks, and pay their respects through a Zoom call. Afterwards, elders can “reward” children with money that they can send virtually or over mail. Either way, elders still get the chance to give children words of wisdom, also known as “dokdam,” through video chat.
Now that you’ve learned about Korean New Year and how you can celebrate during the current circumstances, you can still have a wonderful time at home with your families. From Aquareveal, we hope you all enjoy Seollal, and 새해 복 많이 받으세요!
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