Celebrating The Korean New Year: What Do They Eat?

What Do Koreans Eat for New Year

Did you know that Koreans celebrate the New Year twice? They celebrate January 1(solar calendar) as Westerners do and also the start of the year on the lunar calendar (called Solnal) which for 2020 falls on the 25th of January. However, people in Korea and abroad consider Solnal as more important, and have been so for thousands of years.

The Lunar New Year is a three-day event in Korea. Most Koreans return to their family homes to be with relatives and to honor ancestors. Koreans consider the solar New Year a family day even for those in the West this time celebrating with friends. Western cities with large populations of Asians typically have lunar new year festivities.

As per tradition and customs, everyone wears the traditional hanbok. A deep bow to the floor (seh bae) is the ceremonial ritual on New Year’s day by family members honoring their dead, while making food and drink offerings to the spirits of ancestors (charae). Children receive gifts of money and words of wisdom for the New Year, and everyone wishes each other blessings for the New Year (saehae bok manee badesaeyo).

What are the traditional foods for the celebratory festivities?

The New Year’s meal is a soup of thinly sliced rice cakes (duk gook) or a variation with dumplings such as the recipe for Korean dumpling (mandoo). Because everyone turns a year older with the start of each New Year (and not on their birthday), many people tell their children that they can’t get older unless they’ve eaten some duk gook. Some type of duk (rice cakes, ttuk, or tteok) is enjoyed at every important Korean celebration, and the white rice cakes in the soup represent a clean start and new beginning for the New Year.

Following the meal of duk gook, casual family time follows. This varies from family to family. Some may go for traditional outdoor games like kite-flying or noltigi, Korean board games like yutnori (a board game that involves stick-tossing), video or board games for younger generations, karaoke, or just conversation and relaxation.

If family members are not in one place, the younger generations visit their older uncles, aunts, and relatives that live close by and give wishes for the New Year.


Celebrating with Friends in Bellevue

Whether that’s the solar or lunar New Year, we are inviting those who love Korean traditional dishes to celebrate with friends or family at Seoul Hot Pot.