Korean New Year

Main Text: 

Korean New Year 

Background on Informant: 

Currently a student, my informant grew up in a Korean household and has shared with me the many traditions she grew up practicing and experienced throughout her life. 


She explains:

“Korean New Year is based off the Korean calendar, and it is one of most important holidays we celebrate. 

It usually lasts for three days, the day before, the day itself, and the day after and begins either in January or February.

I know in South Korea it is of major importance to the point where businesses close for days and families honor their ancestors. 

Before we eat, we make sure to place offerings to our ancestors and then everyone in the family does deep bows as a sign of respect. 

For me, I usually gather with with family and friends and we do the traditional bow and we are given a ton of money. 

The traditional meal we eat is the Tteokguk, which is a soup with rice cakes, and symbolically once you eat it you are ‘one year older’. 

Technically we’re supposed to wear hanboks, which is our traditional clothing, but the tradition has evolved to the point where we just wear more westernized clothing. 

The feast is amazing, my mom makes so much food and leftovers usually last a week. 

While I do celebrate the Western New Year’s as well, I prefer the Korean one because we are spoiled with gifts and food.” 


I learned so much from my informant about Korean traditional culture and practices and found myself wanting to learn more. I love how a common trend is the three day celebration and how unlike in the USA the celebration is continued for multiple days. I have also observed how food plays a major role in Korean heritage and customs, as well as the symbolism behind each meal. I love how Koreans retain their cultural identity with their connection to the past and of course honoring their ancestors. Koreans values and traditions are a huge part of connecting with the past and allowing future generations to continue these practices.