Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Korean New Year (Seollal)

Seollal 설날 or Chinese/Lunar New Year as it is commonly referred to in English speaking countries is Korea’s biggest and most important holiday. Seollal is a three day holiday beginning one day before and ending one day after the 1st day of the Lunar Calendar.

Early in the morning on Seollal, families observe a traditional ritual called charye. They also offer up "tteokguk" (rice-cake soup), instead of rice and soup, for the deceased ancestors. After charye, younger members of the family make a deep bow to their grandparents, parents and other elders, who in return, usually give a gift of money. During the bow they normally wish each other well for the New Year.

On this day people like to play various kinds of traditional games, such as yut (a board game where four sticks are thrown instead of dice), neolttwigi (see-sawing), yeonnaligi (kite flying), and tuho (throwing sticks into a barrel). These days, people can play them at folk villages or amusement parks.

This year it falls on Sunday February 14th which makes the first day of this holiday fall on a Saturday which is already day off for us anyway. This time we really only get Monday off. In 2008 we had three weekdays off plus the weekend so we spent the holiday in Beijing which was fantastic!

On Friday we kept with tradition and made mandu soup with the kindergarteners.

In the bowl there is the mandu stuffing - kimchi, noodles, salt, pepper, some beef and pork and veggies.

Place a spoonful of stuffing onto the Mandu paper, wet the edges with a little water and fold together.

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Hye Min finished making two mandu!

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Kelly working on her second.

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Chris and Hye Min waiting to start

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Left – Right: Seung Uk, Christopher, Kelly, David and Alex

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Our director also spent time with the students showing them how to properly bow.

Danny, Albert, Seung Uk and David

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Kelly and Hye Min

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Hye Min, Kelly and our director

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Chris, Christopher and Alex

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During major holidays in Korea people usually by gift sets of just about anything imaginable to give to their family and friends. This can include spam gift sets which we received for Chuseok during our first teaching contract.


This year Krista received a Clarins Beauty gift set and I received a LAB Series for men gift set. Our director said she could have gotten food gifts instead, but she thought beauty was more important…!

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Jon’s gift set with toiletry bag

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Krista’s gift set

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I also received a DAKS London set of 3 dress socks from one of my students.

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I also received a Dettol Gift Set, looks like we won’t be running out of soap anytime soon. Do you think this gift means I smell funny?

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For Christmas, Krista received a beauty mask set from our director

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I received a lotion and toner set.

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I wonder what kind of gifts we’ll receive for Teacher’s Day this year ;)

Here is a video of the students learning the traditions of bowing and making mandu. (Click here if you're viewing through email)