The Joys of Seollal

Our three-day lunar new year holiday or “seollal” started on February 2nd. I didn’t have a full week holiday but it was okay. After working on Tuesday last week, I went straight to my eldest brother-in-law’s house where the whole family was. I turned off my phone’s Gmail auto-sync and the phone ringer to silent. For five days, I didn’t open my email accounts and I just occasionally check my Facebook messages to plan a meeting with friends.
Most married women dread the holidays, but I don’t. Seollal is my favorite Korean holiday and I am not alone. There is much to enjoy in this occasion.
1. Foods galore. I got to eat LA kalbi (barbecued ribs) this seollal, aside from the traditional ë–¡êµ­ (tteok guk) or rice cake soup. When one eats rice cake soup, a year is added to one’s age.

ë–¡êµ­ or rice cake soup

2. New year’s money. This is the reason why kids love this holiday. They get to take home 세뱃돈 (sae bet don).
세뱃돈 or new year's money

3. Food preparation. Believe it or not! I enjoyed preparing food with my sisters-in-law because we get to gossip ;p I don’t speak Korean well but I could understand conversations. We talked mostly about education!
Jeon - pan fried dishes

My SILs and I

4. Traditional games. After all the food preparation on Seollal eve, we usually play “yut nori” which is like a board game. It’s traditionally played on Seollal. This isn’t my favorite Korean game, since I’m really good at “go stop”, a card game.

5. Gifts. Don’t we just love receiving gifts during seollal? My husband received premium Korean snacks and bath towels; while I brought home dried anchovies and kim. Something really traditional. Too bad I giddily opened the presents before I could take pictures.
Korean snacks

6. Family. The best thing about this holiday is just being with family. It reminds me of the time when my family lived in one city. That was ages ago. I like that my son could also spend time with his cousins, aunts and uncles. It’s really important for me that I have a good relationship with my in-laws. After all, if something happens to me or my husband they are the only ones I could trust my son with here in Korea.
After the holidays, my parents-in-law decided to visit our home. They have been staying with us and I’m okay with it since I could go home with the dinner ready and the house clean ;p


  1. ang saya. sounds like you and your family had a wonderful time. i agree – holidays like this one is meant to be spent with family.
    belated happy lunar new year!

  2. yan ka pla ate betchay… inaabangan ko post mo pics mo
    lagi kasi ako nagbabasa ng blog mo pero never ko nakita yung writer ng blog,,,,parang ang hirap naman magluto ng naka hanbok….

  3. sometimes one should live far from his family for a bit to truely value the family bounds he has.
    thank you for this post. it was interesting to read about the way koreans celebrate lunar new year.

  4. Hi Ms. Betchay, Happy Lunar Year ulit! At last, we were able to finally see you!! Been reading for years already and it’s the first time I’ve seen you 🙂 Many thanks for all the wonderful posts!

  5. there’s this 2010 hit thai movie in youtube “hello stranger” filmed in korea featured kdrama locations, food (jajangmyeon, fresh wriggling squid tentacles and other delicacy) and custom. its interesting to find koreans are stiff in tradition in this modern age.

    1. I saw that about two months ago, I think. It was shown on KBS. Only non-Christian Koreans still follow their tradition religiously. Most Christians in Korea don’t celebrate their holidays traditionally.

  6. 5 days wla work c hubby starting Feb. 2. For 4 days, pbalik-balik kmi sa bahay ng parents niya. Nanibago ako. Sbi ko, “Ba’t ba kelangan parating bumisita? Bumisita na kmi nung isang araw at kahapon, pati ba naman ngayon?” Naiyak tuloy ako sa inis. Sbi ko sa sarili, “‘Buti pa nung nsa Pilipinas ako, pwde kong gawin kahit anong gusto ko anytime. Dito, para akong puppet. Sunod-sunoran.”
    Pero nung dumating kmi sa bahay ng biyenan ko, ambabait nila, halos wla nga akong naitulong kc yung asawa ng youngr bro at kapatid na babae ng hubby ko ang halos gumagawa. Mabuti pkikitungo nila sa’kin. Npahiya ako sa sarili ko. Di pla ako dpat umasta ng ganun kc blessed ako…Ganun lng tla ang culture nila.

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