‘Tis the season for gift sets

The exodus of more than 10 million Seoulites to their hometowns started yesterday. The Lunar New Year holiday is from the 25th to the 27th of January. For married Korean women (or foreign spouses of Koreans), the holiday isn’t all that fun as it means slave labor. Women stay in the kitchen almost the whole day preparing meals and food offering for the ancestral rites. The men are not expected to do anything! (However, the men in my family are expected to make 만도 (man-du or Korean dumplings) and wash the dishes.)

It is so tempting to hire a helper on these days, but it isn’t possible in my husband’s family since there are two other daughters-in-law. A few of my Filipina friends who are also married to Koreans can get away from this slave labor by giving money to their mothers-in-law. That isn’t possible in my case since my husband is the poorest in the family. In short, my mother-in-law has more money than I could ever afford to give her. Luckily, my husband is the third son and I’m not expected to do more than the other myeonneuri (며느리daughters-in-law) in the family. The real work rests on the shoulders of the first daughter-in-law, my keun hyongnim (큰형님 – my eldest sister in law who is married to the first son).

Anyway, the good thing about the lunar new year, which is called 설날 (romanized as “seol-nal” but pronounced as “seol-lal”) is that this is also the season for gift giving. I got a box of Pantene Hair Fall Control shampoo, conditioner and ampule set from my “wonjangnim” (hagwon owner) while my husband received a box of canned goods (relief?). We gave the canned goods away to the guards at our building. It’s a no-no for my husband who prefers naturally-prepared food. (Back home, I usually get promotional pens as holiday gifts.)

After the ancestral rites on the morning of New Year’s Day, money called 새뱃돈 “se-be-don”. Of course, we greet each other 새해복많이받으세요 or “Please receive a lot of blessings this new year.” Time to take out the hanbok!

13 comments

  1. my husband received kkot-gam set from his company and soap/shampoo/body wash set from one of his clients….we were secretly hoping for a soap set…because we ran out of soap already…kkkkkkkk….you got anice gift set from the hagwon owner ,happy new year

  2. For some reason, it really irks me when they say Chinese New Year instead of Lunar New year. Not only Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year, actually. I believe Muslims also celebrate the Lunar New Year since they also use the Lunar Calendar.
    Please clarify if I were wrong on this one.
    Hope you had some good Korean foods during this holiday!!!

    Rmjonahs last blog post..Smile Beyond The Cheeks.

  3. Napaka-complicated pala ng celebrations at ‘standing’ sa family sa korea.O_O

    Ate, sana busy lang talaga kayo kaya hindi kayo nakakareply sa emails ko.. huhuhu.T_T

  4. thanks for the greetings guys! i hope you all have a wonderful year.

    @ nicole >> oo sobrang busy… hanggang monday afternoon eh super busy… ngayon lang uli naka-internet

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