Cycle 5 – Item 27
1 (Sat) February 2014
at the In-Laws’ home
-Apgujeong, Gangnam, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with the Family, In-Laws
1st Home Visit (Day 3)
In Seoul to spend the Lunar New Year with the family, the first time home since leaving for Manila earlier this month. Flying back Sunday evening, giving me 3, maybe 4, dinners in town (I calculate time in units of dinner).
Seollal (설날) – Lunar New Year – is one of the country’s two most significant (along with Chuseok). It’s a national holiday spanning three days, the main day in the middle, calculated on the lunar calendar, which shifts every year on the solar calendar, but usually falls sometime between mid-January to mid-February.
Family gatherings typically involve a benediction ceremony in which the elders are seated on the floor, while the younger generation bows down to the floor, all chiming in unison “saehae (new year) bok (fortune) mani (much) badeuseyo (receive)!” The elders then shell out to the young-uns a few bills – anywhere from 1,000 to 1,000,000 won, depending on the circumstances – and drop a few pearls of wisdom/advice for the coming year: “Work hard, stay healthy, etc.”
On the morning of Seollal, the traditional meal is a bowl of ddeok guk. For reasons that I have still yet to determine, consuming the rice cake signifies aging another year. We had one bowl for breakfast yesterday at my parents’ place and another bowl for brunch today.
After lunch, we just kinda lounged around, until dinner time, at which point nobody felt like going anywhere else, so we stayed for dinner. The spread was almost exactly as a few hours earlier. Under normal circumstances, I don’t really dig hanging out at the in-laws’ apartment, much less eating there, but the entire day was actually quite pleasant this time – apparently, the extended stay in Manila is making everything in Seoul look/feel good.
(See also BOOZE)
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)