Seollal (Korean New Year)

Korean New Year, Seollal, is the first day of the lunar calendar and so begins a three-day national holiday. I was curious to know how Koreans celebrate the occasion and it is often spent with family, whereby families honour their ancestors,  pay respect to elders, play games, wear the traditional dress (hanbok) and eat delicious food. 

I was also interested to learn if the Chinese celebrated the New Year similarly. In China, New Year celebrations are spread over 15 days. From what I read, each day is celebrated differently, involves praying to their ancestors, gods, eating certain foods for longevity, good fortune, and then rounding out the festivities, a lantern festival is held on the 15th night. And there seems to be a heavy emphasis on the dos and don’ts, such as cleaning your home before the New Year to sweep away the bad luck and allow the good luck to enter the home, but after the New Year begins, put your broom and dustpan away lest all the good luck be swept away.

2013 is the year of the snake. According to what I’ve read, those born under this zodiac sign are ambitious and hardworking. Their downfall can be self-doubt though, related to their perfectionist personality.

I was born in the year of the rabbit and without really knowing all of the signs and their personality traits, I find the rabbit’s qualities suit me. Some traits include:  gentle, quiet, elegant, kind, patient, intuitive, clever, ambitious. Ok, so some of them apply. Some. Negatives: rabbits are reluctant to reveal their minds, like to weigh their options. This can result in rabbits missing opportunities or resisting change because of their conservative and cautious personality. I think that is me.

And I did visit T&T supermarket yesterday.  I thought it was fun!! For dinner, I put together some green onion pancake, edamame and bulgogi beef last night. I also made some spring rolls this morning. Filling consisted of mung beans, finely chopped carrot, celery, ginger, garlic and salt. I thought they were tasty, although I will have to experiment with the pan temperature. It seemed either too hot or not hot enough, so I found it difficult to get a consistent colour on all sides.

spring roll

Veg spring rolls

And without a doubt, there are so many fascinating items at T&T and I can’t wait to return. There was a festiveness in the air. The supermarket was packed with shoppers as I had anticipated, but interestingly, traffic seemed to flow well inside the store.

I’d been in the store maybe 10 minutes when I was approached by an older woman who had been mulling over the selection of frozen dumplings.  She held up a bag of  dumplings, looked over at me and asked, do you just boil these? She may have assumed I would know off the top of my head. I mean, if one of us would be familiar with dumplings, the odds would be in my favour as the Asian person. But I didn’t know, so I looked on the back of the bag and read the directions to her. Boil for 4-5 minutes until they float, I said. The woman nodded, put the bag back among the others and walked away. Only after did I wonder if I had inadvertently insulted her by reading the directions, something she could have easily done herself. She probably wanted the quick and dirty, yes or no answer. I gave her the manufacturer’s suggested cooking method.


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