January 23, 2020
Every year, my family and I celebrate Seollal, the Korean Lunar New Year. On the ride to my grandparents’ house, our parents review how we should perform the ceremonial bow and what we should say (we always have trouble pronouncing the phrase).
After we take off our shoes, we rush over to our grandparents and my siblings and I perform our deep bow followed by a very butchered “saehae bok mani badeuseyo,” or “please receive a lot of luck in the new year.”
As we nervously get up and hug our grandparents, they hand us each a red envelope with some cash in it. We hear our mom whisper for us to receive the gift with two hands and bow in thanks, and we do so with a big smile on our faces.
Is Seollal similar to Chinese New Year? Yes. Is it Chinese New Year? No.