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Today we went to celebrate Korean New Year’s Day (Solla) at The Korea Society. All races of children, parents, and grandparents were welcome to sample traditional rice cakes (Ttok), practice the New Year's bow (Sebae), and watch a short film screening on the traditional ancestral ceremony Ch'arye, the holding of an ancestor-memorial service on festive days, with food and wine offered in sacrifice to the ancestral tablet. The day was also filled with traditional games and activities.
The first activity was hearing the story of the Master Calligrapher. Some children were dressed in their Hanbok's and looked so colorful. I tried sitting and hearing the whole story but my son was soon on to the next activity.
We stopped by the food table to get rice cakes (Ttok) and Korean New Year drinks like Shik'e (rice punch) and Sujonggwa (cinnamon flavoured persimmon punch). Sadly all the race cakes were gone so my son had the Sujonggwa while I enjoyed the Shik'e.
As we took a break to enjoy our drinks I looked around to see what other types of families came to celebrate. While I did see another black family and some white/asian families it was mostly asian families attending. It was nice to see all the Halmeoni's (Grandma's) sitting in the corner watching the kids run around.
Our next stop was the Minhwa coloring table. Minhwa is a simple folk art style of painting on paper or canvas. Typical subjects include tigers (representing power) and cranes (representing long life). When asked to choose which animal he wanted to color my son chose the tiger, which is my Chinese zodiac sign. Smart boy!
From there we wandered over to the Sebae section where things got really interesting. When I asked what the pretty floor mats were about, the guy there explained that it was for bowing. He then asked if I wanted him to show my son how. I didn't think it would work since Daniel was busy trying to climb the stage instead of sitting on the mats. But the guy was patient and explained to Daniel what to do. When it seemed Daniel wanted to run away, he sat him down and gave him some sort of mini massage. I think he took a liking to Daniel and wanted to encourage him.
Meanwhile the women on the other side instructed me to take off my shoes and sit on the mat. Seems the guy taught the boys and the women taught the girls. But when I asked her to teach me she said, you don't bow. LOL. As I sat down I felt so weird but as I watched my son finally let the guy show him how to bow and show respect. I was so proud of him. He's a good son.
After that we went to play Yut nori, a Korean board game traditionally played on New Year’s Day. My son liked seeing the sticks being thrown but he's still to young to figure out how to move the token (Mals). Then we went to Yon Mandulgi (Kite making) but it was to crowded so we went to make a Chegi (sorta a hacky-sack) that suppose to be kicked.
One of the guys showed us how to kick a Chegi using the side of the feet. He was very good at it. Then it was time for the children to learn how to kick so they can enter the contest later. Daniel tried to kick his Chegi but he still needs to work on his kick ;)
We had a great day at the Korea Society and I'm glad they host events that are open to anyone who wants to learn more about Korean culture.