Seollal is the Korean Lunar New Year. It’s observed by Koreans around the world, and has its roots in Buddhism. It is the first day of the Korean lunar calendar. This year, it falls on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.
This is a huge celebration for Koreans, who get a day off work, and spend time with family. They play traditional games, including flying kites, kicking hackie sacks, and play on a seesaw.
Many Koreans travel during this time to be with family and friends, so buses and subways are absolutely packed with holiday travelers. Koreans will wear the hanbok, the traditional Korean dress for both men and women. You can see Koreans wearing their hanboks around town, on the subways and in the streets.
This is a very family and filial-piety-oriented holiday, where children wish their parents a happy new year by performing a traditional bow and say kind words. They say 새해 복 많이 받으세요, which translates to “Please receive many blessings in the new year.”
Koreans also visit the grave mounds of their deceased relatives and pay their respects. In North America, we bury our dead, deep underground, but in Korea, they place the body on the ground and pile dirt on top, creating a large burial mound. These mounds can very often be seen high up in mountains, as well as in many rural areas.
What did I do during my Seollal break you ask? Nothing.