Korean New Year

Korean New Year, also known as Seollal, is a significant cultural and traditional celebration observed in Korea. Falling on February 10, 2024, it marks the beginning of the lunar new year according to the Korean calendar. This festive occasion holds immense importance in Korean culture, bringing families together and symbolizing new beginnings.

History of Korean New Year

Steeped in tradition and vibrant with cultural significance, Seollal, the Korean Lunar New Year, transcends mere celebration. It’s a poignant journey through ancestral reverence, family bonding, and embracing new beginnings. Let’s delve deeper into its unique facets:

Echoes of History:

The whispers of Seollal’s legacy reach back centuries, with records as early as the “Book of Sui” and “Book of Tang” documenting its observance in the ancient Silla kingdom (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.). The Joseon dynasty (1392 – 1897) further etched its mark with grand celebrations held within the royal palaces, solidifying its cultural significance.

A Fusion of Influences:

While acknowledging the influence of Chinese Confucianism, Seollal has carved its own distinct identity. This unique blend is evident in its adherence to the lunar calendar and the 12-year animal cycle, mirroring the Chinese zodiac but retaining its Korean essence.

The Dance of the Zodiac:

Each year in the cycle is personified by an animal, imbuing it with specific characteristics. From the wise Ox to the spirited Horse, these animal spirits are believed to influence the personality and fortune of those born under their reign. Some parents even go as far as aligning their child’s birth year with a desired animal, highlighting the deep-rooted belief in this zodiac system.

Beyond Celebration:

Seollal is more than just a festive occasion. It’s a time for families to reunite, honoring ancestors through the sacred Charye ceremony and expressing respect to elders with the heartfelt Sebae bows. Traditional games like Yut Nori and Go-Stop fill the air with laughter, while elaborate feasts laden with symbolic dishes like Tteokguk and Bulgogi nourish both body and soul.

A Celebration for All:

The spirit of Seollal extends beyond family circles, fostering a sense of community. Cultural events like parades and folk performances immerse everyone in the festive spirit, allowing participants to appreciate the richness of Korean heritage.

Hope for the Future:

As the last embers of the old year fade, Seollal ignites a spark of hope for the year ahead. With renewed optimism and a heart full of tradition, Koreans step into the new year, embracing its possibilities with open arms.

Korean New Year Activities

1. Charye (차례):

The most important ritual of Seollal is charye, a церемония поклонения предкам (ancestor worship ceremony) performed to pay respect to deceased family members. A table is豐盛地鋪設(laid out richly) with various dishes and offerings, and family members bow deeply in remembrance. 

2. Sebae (세배):

After charye, younger generations perform sebae, a deep bow to their elders to show respect and receive blessings for the new year. In return, elders offer words of encouragement and may give lucky money in small decorated envelopes called sebaet돈(돈). 

3. Traditional Feast:

Seollal is a time for families to gather and enjoy a special feast together. The table is滿滿的(piled high) with an abundance of delicious dishes, each with its own symbolic meaning. Some popular dishes include:

  • Tteokguk (떡국): A hearty rice cake soup symbolizing long life and prosperity.
  • Japchae (잡채): Glass noodles stir-fried with vegetables and meat, representing longevity and harmony.
  • Bulgogi (불고기): Marinated grilled beef, symbolizing strength and prosperity.
  • Kimchi (김치): Fermented cabbage, a staple side dish representing abundance and warding off evil spirits.

4. Traditional Games:

After the feast, families often enjoy playing traditional games together. Some popular games include:

  • Yut Nori (윷놀이): A board game played with sticks, similar to backgammon.
  • Go-Stop (고스톱): A card game similar to rummy.
  • Tuho (투호): Throwing arrows at a target.

5. Cultural Events:

Many cities and towns in Korea hold special cultural events during Seollal, such as parades, folk dance performances, and traditional music concerts. These events are a great way to experience the festive atmosphere and learn more about Korean culture.

5 Facts About Korean New Year

  • Seollal is one of the most significant holidays in Korea, along with Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving).
  • The holiday is celebrated for three days, allowing families ample time for reunions and festivities.
  • Koreans traditionally wear Hanbok, their traditional attire, during Seollal.
  • It’s believed that eating Tteokguk during Seollal adds one year to a person’s age.
  • Seollal is a time for reflection and setting intentions for the upcoming year.

Korean New Year Quotes, Wishes, and Messages

“May the new year bring you joy, prosperity, and endless blessings.”

“Wishing you and your family a Seollal filled with love and harmony.”

“As the new year dawns, may it bring new hopes and dreams to fulfill.”

“Sending warm wishes for a prosperous and joyous Seollal.”

“May the year ahead be filled with happiness and success for you and your loved ones.”

“Cheers to a new beginning and a year filled with laughter and love.”

“Wishing you health, wealth, and happiness in the year ahead.”

“May the spirit of Seollal fill your home with warmth and togetherness.”

“Here’s to a year filled with wonderful memories and cherished moments.”

“Happy Seollal! May this new year be your best one yet.”

Why We Love Korean New Year

1. Family Focus:

Unlike some New Year celebrations focused on parties and friends, Seollal is predominantly a family-oriented holiday. It’s a precious time for people to reunite with loved ones, especially those living far away, and strengthen family bonds. The traditions like charye and sebae further emphasize respect and appreciation for elders, creating a warm and meaningful atmosphere.

2. Rich Traditions:

Seollal boasts a wealth of unique traditions passed down through generations. From the ancestral ceremony of charye to the heartwarming sebae bows, and the playing of traditional games like Yut Nori and Go-Stop, these practices connect people to their roots and offer a sense of cultural identity.

3. Delicious Food:

As with many celebrations, food plays a central role in Seollal. Families come together to prepare and enjoy elaborate feasts featuring symbolic dishes like tteokguk, japchae, and bulgogi. These meals not only satisfy the appetite but also hold special meanings, bringing good luck and prosperity for the new year.

4. Cultural Immersion:

Seollal provides a window into Korean culture and heritage. Experiencing the festive atmosphere, trying traditional clothing like Hanbok, and witnessing cultural events like parades and folk performances offer a deeper understanding and appreciation of Korean tradition.

5. New Beginnings and Hope:

Like other New Year celebrations, Seollal signifies a fresh start and a chance for renewal. By honoring ancestors, reflecting on the past year, and participating in joyous traditions, people feel hopeful and optimistic about the year ahead.

Korean New Year Dates

YearDate (Gregorian Calendar)Day of the Week
2024February 10Saturday
2025January 29Wednesday
2026February 18Wednesday
2027February 7Sunday
2028January 26Tuesday


What is Korean New Year?

Korean New Year, known as Seollal, is a traditional holiday celebrated in Korea to mark the beginning of the lunar new year. It’s a time for family reunions, ancestral rites, and various cultural festivities.

When is Korean New Year?

Korean New Year typically falls on February 10th, though the date varies each year as it follows the lunar calendar.


Korean New Year, with its rich history, vibrant traditions, and profound cultural significance, continues to be a cherished holiday in Korea and beyond. As we celebrate Seollal on February 10, 2024, let us embrace the spirit of renewal, gratitude, and togetherness that define this auspicious occasion.

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