Dumplings for New Years

Nationality: Korean
Primary Language: English
Other language(s): Korean
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: LA, California
Performance Date: 3/20/2024


My informant, DH, is a friend of mine from my freshman year at USC from Los Angeles, California. I talked with DH one night in second semester freshman year about our families and our relationships with them. I knew his brother and asked him about their relationship, nothing too personal, just random talk. That was until he mentioned a party that he and his family threw during new years which got crazy and fun. I asked him to elaborate and he said that at this new years party, which is similar to Chinese new years parties, his family made dumplings and they all had a feast with it, along with a party.


“Ok, well my family does this thing where we get together, eat dumplings and just gossip together for new years. It’s like Chinese new years but not the same for us because we don’t celebrate it for the same reasons, because, you know, we’re Korean. But we don’t even really celebrate Korean new years either. But yeah, that’s what we do. Though I wouldn’t really say it’s a family tradition, more of like a uh, a festival. Like yeah we do this every year but we do it as a way of celebrating our family’s connection, that’s why we essentially just yap the whole time with each other, the party is kinda like, symbolic of how close we all are with each other.”


I did some of my own research on this topic and found out that yes Korean Lunar New Year is a thing and it is, well, in Korea, usually seen as the biggest holiday of the year, and it is a day when the entire family gathers in hanbok, traditional Korean clothes, to do saebae, which is the most important tradition. However, DH’s family seemingly acknowledges this cultural tradition and twists it into their own family festival where it represents how far they have come as a family. I’ve never seen this sort of festival or idea get explored before within Korean cultures when doing my own research but I still find it interesting how DH’s family still ties this Korean Lunar New Year idea and tradition into their own personal family festival instead of something tied just to cultural identity and nationality.