Chinese New Year is one of the biggest holidays in Korea. It is the time of year where all the families gather around to celebrate the lunar year passing by.
When all of the family members have gathered around, we play a traditional game called Yut. We throw two-sided sticks dice and move our pieces on a board. The team that moves all the pieces to the end wins. Such an intense and nail-biting game brings the whole family together.
Unfortunately however, these days the kids are busy playing with their Nintendo and adults with their smart phones that even during the time of family reunion, there is no sounds of laughter or merry atmosphere.
Many families that have members that have passed away commemorate their loved ones at Chinese New Year also. My family has been commemorating my deceased grandmother for 10 years now.
On a rectangular table, we light candles on each end, put pictures in the middle, and then put all the customary foods for the commemorative rites for our ancestors. The foods are usually beef, rice, soup, bracken, spinach, parsley, rice cake, apple, pear, persimmon, and other foods according to each family’s style. Then, everyone takes a deep bow in front of her picture and then each family member steps out and takes individual bows from oldest to youngest. During the whole commemoration we keep ourselves very neat and do every practice in silence.
After the commemoration, it is time for us to eat. The special food that we eat in Chinese New Year is a tteokguk, also known as a rice cake soup. On a soup with anchovy and egg, we put in a white rice cake sliced in an oval shape. It is said that by eating this rice cake soup we can actually get a year older. It is one of my most favorite foods, but due to the fact that our mothers make tons of these soups at once, we have to eat them for weeks, and eventually some of us get sick of it.
The commemoration of our ancestors is nice and the food is awesome, but the most amazing part of this holiday is yet to come. During the Chinese New Year, we do a traditional bow to the elders in our family. The elders give us advice on how to live the following year, open up their wallet and give us money. The amount of money we get increases as we get older, and this is why Chinese New Year is one of the most favorite holidays for the children. The most amount of money I've ever received for Chinese New Year was about $330.
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