Monday, January 30, 2012

Lunar New Year in Korea

Chinese New Year isn't only for the Chinese. Koreans celebrate the New Year during the same time but it's referred to as Lunar New Year. 

It's usually celebrated on the second new moon after winter solstice and sometimes it's on the third new moon, but that's rare. Lunar New Year in Korea is a time to spend with family and honor your elders. Traditional Korean clothing, called hanbok, is usually worn and children bow to their elders wishing them a blessed New Year. In return, the children are given money. It's also a tradition to eat rice cake soup.

I talked to all of my classes about what they did for the New Year celebrations to get a sense of what really goes on. Everyone said they went to visit their grandparents. One even said he went to his grandmother's grave to bow in the snow before it. Most of the younger kids (under 10) said they wore a hanbok and most of the older kids said they didn't. All kids got money from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other elder family members after they bowed. Also, playing with cousins is a big part of the New Year celebrations for a kid.  :)

All the pictures are from a pre-New Year's celebration we had for the kindergarteners the Friday before the holiday weekend. They are taught how to bow correctly and given 1,000Won (about $1) if they do it right for the superintendent. They all looked so cute dressed up! The girls especially loved the long pretty skirts. 

I'm so happy I get to experience Korean culture in this way. The kids are teaching me about their lives and ways and I'm getting paid for it because they're explaining it to me in English! :) It's pretty cool.

Here's a short video of the bowing and money giving in action.

Lunar New Year in Korea from destination exploration on Vimeo.