table setting for Seollal (Korean Lunar New Year)

© John Doe, Korea Tourism Organization

Lunar New Year: Celebrating Seollal

We’re celebrating Lunar New Year by sharing personal insights on how different countries mark the holiday. Post your own traditions in the comments.

In Korea, where I’m from, Lunar New Year is called Seollal. The official holiday spans three days, including the day before and after Seollal. Families traditionally come together at the oldest male relative’s home. We prepare a lot of food for charye, a ritual to pay tribute to our ancestors. After bowing to the ancestors, we bow to the elders in a ritual called saebae. Traditionally elders who are honored with saebae then give gifts of cash and good words to younger family members. Like most children, my older sister and I love this holiday because we are able to see our relatives and get money!

photo of an elder kneeling before a table full of food in front of younger family members
Charye, a Korean ritual to pay tribute to ancestors. © Korea Tourism Organization

Taehyung Kim

Taehyung Kim is a youth and family programs intern at the Freer|Sackler.

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