New Year’s Bow

In Korean custom, my source described a deep traditional bow that one does to his or her elders on New Year’s Day. The bow is completed along with a phrase in Korean that roughly translates to “may you receive many New Year’s blessings.” The elder in turn gives to his child or grandchild pocket money and a few words of wisdom. My source first experienced this as a young boy in Korea.

This is a ritual that I myself have experience with as well. Because I was born and raised in the United States, there were many aspects of Korean tradition and custom that I was unawares to, and when I first visited Korea during the turn of the New Year, I too was expected to follow along in the ritual. The intense reverence of one’s elders is an aspect of Korean tradition that is deeply ingrained and one that I, raised as an American, had somewhat of a difficult time adjusting to.