SEOLLAL. The most Important Korean Holiday

Korea does not have many holidays, but one of the most important holidays is Seollal, the  Korean New Year.

This year the Seollal is from 15th of February to 17th of February 2018.

During Seollal, Koreans pay respect to their ancestors, but it is also a way to a get together with the whole family. Due to Korean hectic lifestyle, work, marriage, school, and work extra mandatory duties, Koreans they do not have time for their families. Also, many people have the families far away or in another cities, so this is the time when Koreans travel to their hometowns. During this long holiday, Koreans have “really” time off and able to spend quality time with their family and relatives.

  • SEOLLAL PREPARATIONS

This is a huge celebration. Many gift are given to family members and lots of things to buy to prepare the ceremony. People travel to their hometowns to visit their families, so it is well-known that this season the transportation is super busy. Highways, train stations and trains and buses full of people. So travellers must prepare the trip in advance by booking their transportation accommodation in advance. The family that is waiting the person who travels will be charge or purchasing the food and ceremony ingredient as well as preparing the ceremony.

  • SEOLLAL PREPARATIONS

Ceremony: Early on the morning of Seollal, all the family member gather and pray for their ancestors. The duration of this ritual depends on the family. It could be from 15 minutes to more than 30 minutes. The purpose of the ceremony is to honor the memory of the ancestors (no only one, but all), and send them off well. So at the end of the ceremony the master (older men in the family) will open the door of the house to send off the ancestors.

Gifts: Korean culture is all about giving, so during Seollal this giving part of the culture is very important. It can be anything, but usually is money and depends on family preferences and traditions.  Company has standard gifts sets to give to their employees who might or not might chose beforehand.  In case of the family, the children get some money/gift from grandparents after a big bow.  There is no rule here, but the tradition in very important.

The ceremony table: there is a book with the rules of how to build the ceremony table and which kind of food you must put in there and how. However, that also depends on family and budget. Some families are more generous than others and for this season the common ceremony ingredients get really expensive.

  • HOLIDAY:

During the holidays, the families spend time discussing about politics, eating, watching TV. Usually during this holidays, wife of the master and daughter in law are the most busiest people. Daughter (direct daughter of the master) will spend the holiday in the husband house family. In order to understand this, when you marry in Korea to Korean, you belong to your husband’s family and to their family tree.

After the ceremony, usually the whole family take the car and visit the rest of the family or gather with the rest of relatives in somewhere else, greet each other and exchange gifts. It is real family get together.

Seollal ceremony is incompatible with Christian Religion, so Christians do not celebrate Seollal at home and bow to the ancestors. Christinas they go to Church and spend there day with their families in there as well. But overall, this is holidays for everybody and we try to spend it the best as possible in the most harmonious way as possible.

Thanks for reading and if you think is interesting, please share it!!!

Laura Valls

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