In Korea, Seoullal (Lunar New Year) is the most celebrated national holidays. Unlike in America where we celebrate New Years based on the Gregorian Calendar, Koreans celebrate January 1 based on the Lunar Calendar. This year Seoullal falls on January 31.
During this time most Koreans travel back to their home to celebrate with their families. What this means for us is a four day weekend (yay!) but also tons of traffic and packed public transportation.
So, staying home is the obvious decision since sitting in traffic for hours isn’t very fun, especially with a toddler in tow. But don’t let that ruin your holiday weekend! Celebrating Seoullal is a great way to spend quality time with your family while building new traditions and learning about the Korean culture. Even if you aren’t living in Korea, Seoullal can be an awesome learning opportunity or a fun excuse to make Korean food at home.
Now that I’ve convinced you to celebrate Seoullal, wherever you are, here are 5 (toddler friendly) ways to make it happen!
1. Wear Hanboks!
Hanboks are traditional Korean clothes typically worn during Seoullal. While I don’t think I’d shell out the money for an adult size hanbok (these are usually custom made and pretty pricey), Addison has one and it was only 40,000. She will most definitely be wearing hers this year. If you don’t want to purchase a hanbok, you can print out this Korean Paper Doll and dress her up for your Seoullal celebration.
2. Play a Traditional Korean Folk Game
Gonggi (pronounced gong-gee) is a popular Korean folk game that is similar to Jacks. It is traditionally played using 5 or more small grape-sized pebbles. Small pebbles are cheap and easy to find making this game easy to incorporate into your party. There are many levels to this game but the basics are as follows:
With the stones laid out in front of you, select a stone to throw up in the air. While airborne, pick up one stone on the playing surface then catch the stone. These steps are repeated until all the stones have been caught.
This is also a great game for your little to practice motor skills and keeps them busy while you…
3. Make Tteokguk (Rice Cake Soup)
I promise this is more delicious than it sounds, and pretty easy to make! The rice cakes in this recipe are sliced into thin oval shapes symbolizing a bright and prosperous new year. Try this recipe from My Korean Eats.
4. Sing Happy Birthday
Koreans typically age a year on the Lunar New Year, not on their actual birthday. Light a candle and sing Happy Birthday, cupcakes optional.
5. Bow to Your Elders
During Seoullal it is customary to bow deeply to your elders who then reciprocate with monitory gifts. If giving your toddler money doesn’t sound appealing, teach them how to bow and reward them with a small toy or treat, perhaps that optional cupcake I mentioned earlier?
I hope you will take this opportunity to explore something new with you family!
Have you ever tried introducing a new holiday or cultural tradition? How did it go?