Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Happy (Korean) New Year!

Did you know Koreans celebrate the Lunar New Year, called 설날 (Seollal)? We commemorated what is usually a multi-day affair with a special class party for students, teachers, and even a few guests from the Foreign Service Institute (FSI, or Diplomat School) administration.

As always, we ate delicious Korean food (한식, Hansik), but we also got to try on various kinds of traditional clothes known as 한복 (Hanbok). I wrote about wearing Hanbok in a previous post, but this time I got to try on some ceremonial wedding Hanbok. Unfortunately, M wasn't there, so I pretended to marry three other classmates who were trying on the groom Hanbok and posed for pictures with me in my bride outfit. It was a lot of fun, though I will say the clothes suited some of the students more than others.

There was even a small amount of traditional alcohol for everyone to enjoy! (Thankfully, my friend R was happy to take my share of alcohol.) We toasted to the new year, good health, and long lives for everyone present. As we say for "Cheers!" in Korean: 건배 (Geonbae)!

Lastly, we played 윷 놀이 (Yut Nori), a competitive traditional game where you passionately toss sticks to determine how to move pieces representing horses on a game board. You keep playing until you make it the whole way around, and you can catch and bump opponents' pieces back to the beginning. The closest game I could think of in American culture is Sorry!. I got so into it that I forgot to take any action shots while we were playing. But thanks to the stick-tossing skills of my teammates (and possibly some weighted sticks that rigged good throws) we won! The teachers gave us special prizes and cheered us on, and it was wonderful to revisit a game I haven't played since my own childhood.

새해 복 많이 바드세요! We're wishing all our readers many blessings in the new year! Thanks as always for reading.

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