5 Korean Terms Related to Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year! ????

One of the biggest holidays in Korea has started! Lunar New Year is a day to celebrate the first day of a lunar calendar year. Families and relatives gather around to celebrate the holiday. (Insane traffic!)

Here are the five Korean terms that are related to Lunar New Year!


Lunar New Year is called “설” in Korean. It’s also called “설날” (Seollal) to emphasize the day as “날” means “day.”

세배 (Se-bae)

On Lunar New Year’s day, it’s a tradition to bow deeply to family’s elders and wish them a happy new year as a respect. This act is called “세배.”
As a return, the elders give words of wisdom and money, which is called 세뱃돈 (se-baet-don). 

한복 (Han-bok)

Korean traditional clothes. Koreans traditionally wear 한복 on Lunar New Year when bowing to family’s elders. 

차례 (Cha-rye)

A memorial service for family’s ancestors performed on Korean traditional holidays, such as Lunar New Year’s Day and Korean Thanksgiving Day (Chuseok). 

윷놀이 (Yutnori)

It’s one of the famous Korean traditional board games. To put it simply, the goal is to place all of your player pieces (which are called ‘mal’ in Yutnori) to the finish line first. Four sticks are used as a dice. Since the whole family gathers on Lunar New Year, the game is usually held as a family competition.

People waiting in line at Incheon Airport on the Lunar New Year holiday. (Yonhap News)

In the old days, it was important to follow tradition. Families had to gather and spend the holiday together. But, as the society becomes more diverse, people nowadays enjoy Lunar New Year’s day in their own ways. Some go out to travel, some stay at home, and some spend the holiday with friends. 

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