I lived in Korea for four years. Needless to say, I picked up some habits and traditions during my time there. One of these traditions is celebrating the Lunar New Year (Seollal), in addition to the Gregorian New Year. I returned to the United States in the summer of 2016, so this is the first year I’ve celebrated outside of Korea.
Lunar New Year is a pretty big deal in Korea. Almost everyone gathers with their family to perform ancestral rites, play traditional games, and eat a lot of food. Where I live now, there’s almost no sign of celebration. So, I decided to celebrate in the ways I could.
I bought Hangwa (한과), Korean traditional candy and sweets, and made ddeokguk (Tteokguk / 뗙국). Ddeokguk is considered to be the most important New Year’s food. During Seollal, everyone adds a year to their age, and eating ddeokguk is the main step in completing this process.
Full disclosure: the ddeokguk I made wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t how I remember it and I don’t think this is due to the recipes. Nevertheless, it was fun to make and made me feel like I was somehow participating in the Seollal celebrations I became so fond of.