> Korean Food Culture > Annual Customs and
Lunar New Year’s Day is one of the biggest
festive days for Koreans. Originally the New Year’s
Day was based on the thoughts on the worship of ancestors
and filial piety, and the meaning of New Year’s Day
is very sacred time on which the gods of ancestors who passed
away before are invited and be with descendants.
In the morning of New Year’s Day, descendants
offer an ancestor-memorial service to pay tribute to their
ancestors. After offering the service, all immediate families
and relatives get together and visit their ancestral graves.
Recently people visit their ancestral graves around the New
Games for lunar New Year’s Day begin
from around the end of December already. Kite flying begins
from around the end of December continues up until the great
middle of January. Kite of the great middle of January is
called ‘Ill-luck kite’ and is released to fly
away in the sky. In principle, kite flying is not played after
the middle of January.
Besides kite flying, there are the game of “yut”,
seesawing, scenic spot game and chuck-farthing as games for
New Year’s Day. The game of “yut” is the
most common game around the beginning of the year which many
people regardless of male, female, seniors and young people
can play together indoor or outdoor. The reason why seasonal
customs are concentrated around the New Year’s Day is
because lunar January is agricultural off-season and it is
fresh and sacred period where one year begins It is the reflection
of people’s belief that people’s prayers are accomplished
during the sacred period. As an oral tradition for New Year’s
Day, we can find many proverbs related to New Year’s
Day and the great middle of January.
The clothes wearing on New Year’ Day
is called ‘Gala dress on New Year’s Day’.
On New Year’s Day, people wear the clothes in dyed colors
(colorful dress) and especially children wear jacket with
sleeves of multi-colored stripes. Children wear this kind
of cloth not only during festive days but also on the anniversary
like one year birthday. On one year birthday, baby boys had
waist band in blue color and baby girls had waist band in
purple color for distinction.
to be served for ancestor-memorial service
This is steamed rice
for the service which is put into the rice bowl high
and as many as the number of ancestral tablets. The
rice is covered with lid.
Soup is prepared in a
soup bowl also as many as the number of ancestral tablets
and soup bowl is also covered with lid. Spices such
as red pepper powder, garlic and green onion are not
used to make soup.
The color of rice cake
to be used for the memorial service is recommended to
be white and other colors which look colorful should
be avoided wherever possible.
Broth is made of one
out of beef, fish and chicken but all or two of them
can be boiled together but serving should be done in
separate bowl. The number of broth should be odd number
like, 1, 3 or 5 and Only solid foods are taken from
the broth and put into the broth bowl without soup.
Fried or pan-fried foods.
Usually two kinds of pan-fried foods, pan-fried meat
and pan-fried fish are prepared. The sum total of the
number of dishes for pan-fried food and roasted food
should be odd number because the materials of meat and
fish are natural products and positive numbers (= odd
number) are used for natural products.
Roasted foods are treated
as special food among the dishes for the memorial service.
In old days, three kinds of roasted foods of roasted
meat, roasted fish and roasted chicken are served in
turn as a cup of liquor is served in the service.
Three kinds of boiled
vegetables such as bracken, balloon flower and spinach
with three different colors are served in one dish.
White kimchi and "Nabak" kimchi are used and
in principle red pepper powder is not used.
Traditionally the fruits
used for the memorial service were date, chestnut, persimmon
(soft persimmon or dried persimmon) and pear. Besides
those, apple, water melon, melon and tangerine are also