Our three-day lunar new year holiday or “seollal” started on February 2nd. I didn’t have a full week holiday but it was okay. After working on Tuesday last week, I went straight to my eldest brother-in-law’s house where the whole family was. I turned off my phone’s Gmail auto-sync and the phone ringer to silent. For five days, I didn’t open my email accounts and I just occasionally check my Facebook messages to plan a meeting with friends.
Most married women dread the holidays, but I don’t. Seollal is my favorite Korean holiday and I am not alone. There is much to enjoy in this occasion.
1. Foods galore. I got to eat LA kalbi (barbecued ribs) this seollal, aside from the traditional 떡국 (tteok guk) or rice cake soup. When one eats rice cake soup, a year is added to one’s age.
2. New year’s money. This is the reason why kids love this holiday. They get to take home 세뱃돈 (sae bet don).
3. Food preparation. Believe it or not! I enjoyed preparing food with my sisters-in-law because we get to gossip ;p I don’t speak Korean well but I could understand conversations. We talked mostly about education!
4. Traditional games. After all the food preparation on Seollal eve, we usually play “yut nori” which is like a board game. It’s traditionally played on Seollal. This isn’t my favorite Korean game, since I’m really good at “go stop”, a card game.
5. Gifts. Don’t we just love receiving gifts during seollal? My husband received premium Korean snacks and bath towels; while I brought home dried anchovies and kim. Something really traditional. Too bad I giddily opened the presents before I could take pictures.
6. Family. The best thing about this holiday is just being with family. It reminds me of the time when my family lived in one city. That was ages ago. I like that my son could also spend time with his cousins, aunts and uncles. It’s really important for me that I have a good relationship with my in-laws. After all, if something happens to me or my husband they are the only ones I could trust my son with here in Korea.
After the holidays, my parents-in-law decided to visit our home. They have been staying with us and I’m okay with it since I could go home with the dinner ready and the house clean ;p