New Year’s Weekend Entry 1: Traditional New Year’s Party!

Since I didn’t make any resolutions for Solar New Year (epic fail), I figured I might as well make some for Lunar New Year, or Seolnal, which was this weekend. One of those resolutions is to be better about blogging, so here we go. We had Monday off, and Stephanie came down to visit Daejeon. Since there isn’t really much to do in Daejeon itself, we took some interesting day trips, and hung out with friends here. Some friends of mine put on a Traditional Lunar New Years Party on Saturday night, and then on Sunday we went to Songnisan National Park, and on Monday we visited Buyeo. I figured that I would split it up into three entries since there’s just soo much

Seolnal is a big deal in many Korean families, and there are special, traditional things that must be done. My friends at J and J Recruiting put together a big party to introduce us foreigners to some of the customs on the holiday. Certain foods must be made, special Korean pancakes, special fish, and some sweets, and then they are set up in a certain order on a table. Ours looked like this:

There is a formal ritual where food is offered to the ancestors, which we all preformed. Food for the meal is prepared, then we have to bow, pray, and offer our ancestors their ‘favorite’. (I picked the apples, because I figured that my ancestors wouldn’t really know what to do with all that Korean food.) The ritual is called Sae-be. First, you are given some wine, which you offer to the ancestors. (You use the same glass as the person previous to you, and dump the contents into a communal bowl. I don’t know if that was just for convenience or if it is part of the ritual, haha.) Then you hit your chopsticks three times on the table, spin them around the incense three times, and then choose your ancestor’s favorite food. Then you bow twice–full, head-to-the-floor bow. Women and men bow just a little bit differently–men with right hands on top and women with left hands on top. I’m assuming that’s for the sake of symmetry, since couples bow together. But we all did it by ourselves.

Then everyone bows together, which–to me–looked like sallat prayer at Mosque. I missed that part, since I was chatting with some of the Korean ladies in the back when they were doing it. Even though I didn’t participate, though, it looked pretty cool. It feels good to be included in cultural activities, since I feel like that doesn’t happen so often here.

After eating, we played some traditional games like the “Four Stick Game”, which basically requires that you throw four enormous sticks into the air, and hope that they land face up so that you can move your little pieces on a board. They have five different animals–a dog, a pig, a sheep, and a horse, and a cow. The word for dog in Korean is 개, pronounced “gay”. (Or Kay, the sounds run together), so basically we spent about 40 minutes yelling “GAY!” every time somebody rolled a 2. Anyway I super lost and my friends super won, but it was a good time. Then we played Korean hackie sack with funny feathery things, and I was terrible at it. 😀

Overall we had a great time and I’m glad my friends did this party. The food was great and we had a lot of fun, even though there weren’t a ton of us. I really enjoy their company, so it was a great time.

2 thoughts on “New Year’s Weekend Entry 1: Traditional New Year’s Party!”

  1. Well, your Slovak ancestors understand pickles, and they understand cabbage. But chile peppers would seriously warp their minds. I'd say the apple was a good choice. "Oh, the Lord is good to me / And so I thank the Lord / For giving me / The things I need / The sun, the rain and the appleseed…."

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