The 1st Month of Lunar Calendar : 설날 Seollal from Day and Night

Written by on January 22, 2012 in Lifestyle

* This post is written by Maria Margareta, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.

설날 taken from “Seol” means a new day “to be careful” or “to be discreet in one’s behavior” was believed that good fortune for the entire year depended on what happened on the first day of the new year.

설날 is the most important celebration’s day in Korea usually takes 3 days of holiday, when people gathered and spend time together with their families.

Seol usually falls on the second new moon after winter solstice which is in February or the end of month of January. This year Seollal will celebrate on 23th of January.

Lunar New Year’s activities :

차례 Charye, 성묘 Seongmyo

차례 Charye is the first activities that Koreans usually do in Seollal. Specific foods such as rice and soup, rice-cake and table for the ancestral rite will be setting in the main room of the house. Family members will take full bows in front of the family tablets. 성묘 Seongmyo is the ceremonial rites to honor the family’s ancestral held in the grave site. The food are placed in front of the tomb then the family members make wine offerings and bow toward the graves. After the rituals have been completed, the food is typically used for family picnic lunch at the grave site. This two ceremonial are the most fundamental elements of the New Year celebrations.

세배 Sebae

After doing rituals for ancestors, family members dressed in Hanbok. Traditional Korean dress and doing Sebae. Youngers are bowing to the elders and saying “새해 복 많이 받으세요” it means “I hope you have much good fortune and happiness in the New Year”. Children bow to their parents, aunts uncles and grandparents. Small gifts like money, fruits or sweets will give from the elders to youngers.

photo credit : Korean Air

photo credit : Korean Air

복조리 is a bamboo strainer shaped like a dipper. It is a symbol of  luck and fortune. People in Korea usually hung the Bokjori on the wall between midnight of the last day of the year and the dawn of New Year’s Day. It can be hung on the wall of thegive  room, hall or kitchen. Coins or coins in purse or taffy can be added to the scoops although orginally it is used to dip up washed rice as a relection of gook luck. Family members can give Bokjori as a present in Seollal.

떡국  Tteokguk

is a traditional Korean games usually played in Seollal. Four semicircular sticks called Yut 윷 played with a board game which drawn unto the floor called 말판.

연날리기 Kite-flying.

photo credit : Seoul Korea on flickr

photo credit : Seoul Korea on flickr

photo credit by il_kap on flickr

photo credit by il_kap on flickr

photo credit : KTO

photo credit : KTO

널뛰기 is a Korean folk games usually play in outdoor. Participants stand on each end of the Neol (board) and jump, propelling the person opposite into the air. This games usually played with young girls.

제기차기 Jegichagi


photo credit : KTO

photo credit : KTO

제기차기 is the outdoor Korean folk games with the player kicks a jegi up in the air and keeps on kicking to prevent from falling to the ground.

In a one-to-one game, a player with the most number of consecutive kicks wins. In a group game, the players stand in a circle, and take turns kicking the Jegi. Players who fail to kick the Jegi upon receiving it and let it drop to the ground lose. As a penalty, the loser tosses the jegi at the winner so that he can kick it as he wishes. When the loser catches the jegi back with his hands, the penalty ends and he can rejoin the game

Jegi is looked like a batminton shuttlecocks.

Making a Jegi

Making a Jegi

팽이치기 Paengichigi or top-spinning

Played by spinning a round wooden top on its pointed end by whipping it with strings attached to a stick. They use a wooden stick to keep the top in motion, and the one whose top spins the longest is the winner. It is a challenging game in which contestants try knocking down the other’s top while keeping their own spinning.

 야광 Yagwang

According to folk legend, there existed a spirit of the night known as Yagwang. On the night of the first day of the New Year, it was said that this night would go around to people’s homes, trying on shoes and taking a pair if he liked them. If your shoes were taken in this way, this was an omen of misfortune for the entire household during the coming year. So that all shoes were brought into the house. It was also customary to set off firecrackers on this night to scare off Yagwang.


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The Worldwide Korea Bloggers (WKB) is a gathering of people from different parts of the world, all having affection for Korea. Currently, there are 50 bloggers from 17 different countries and they share their own precious experiences with Korea and its culture on Korea Blog.