Amazing Kids! Magazine

Lunar New Year in Korea

By Amy Shin, age 12, Hong Kong


I wake up early to the aroma of tteokguk.
Following the scent, I enter the kitchen and lift the lid off the clay pot.
Bubbling inside are slices of beef, chives, and rice cake—
Traditional Korean food, the main dish on the Lunar New Year.

One by one, my family members wake up and put on a colorful, silk Hanbok.
The top of my Hanbok is sky blue, and on the jeogori are black and gold patterns.
The skirt is light pink with a white uke geun, which holds my skirt.
Everyone is dressed beautifully and eager to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Before breakfast, every member of the family must respectively worship the ancestors.
We set a ritual table that has the ancestral tablet and ritual food on top,
Offerings of fresh and colorful herbs, fish, and fruit.
To worship the ancestors, we bow, give offerings, and say prayers.
We ask the gods that we may live long and be healthy throughout the year.

After worshiping the ancestor spirits, it
Is time to eat tteokguk.
I ask all my family members how many bowls of tteokguk they have eaten
As this symbolizes their age—
One bowl for every year!

With a full tummy, I do a
Sebae to the elders.
In exchange, I get lucky money in a red packet—a gift from the elders on Seollal.
With excitement, I stuff the envelopes into my empty pocket.
Everyone is happy and full of spirit.

Now it’s time to play traditional folk games.
First is Jegi-chagi, a game which is played with your foot and a jegi.
The second game is Yutnori, a board game played with four wooden sticks.
The evening ends by bidding farewell to the ancestral spirits.
To do this, we say more prayers and give offerings.

Finally, the elders and relatives wish my
Family farewell.
As I snuggle into my bed with my red packets under my pillows,
I sigh happily, feeling the heat rising up
From the ondol floor.
I see the full moon beaming through the night.

Seollal: Lunar New Year
Tteokguk: A traditional Korean dish that has slices of rice cake
Hanbok: A traditional Korean dress
Sebae: The New Year’s bow
Jegi-chagi: A traditional folk game
Jegi: Equipment used for Jegi-chagi
Yutnori: A board game played with four wooden sticks
Uke geun: A part of a Hanbok that is put around one’s shoulder
Jeogori: The top of the Hanbok