Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Happy Seollal (Lunar New Year)!

새해 복 많이 받으세요! Happy Lunar New Year! In Korea, the Lunar New Year is called Seollal (설날) and the typical greeting is literally translated as something like "May you receive much luck/blessings in the new year!" COVID-19 cases are up in Seoul due to the omicron variant, so we couldn't do anything big to celebrate. Instead, we had a few work friends over for a potluck dinner and my favorite traditional Korean game, yut nori (윷놀이). We played two rounds: one with the house rules as I remembered them from my own childhood and one with the "official" rules M found on Wikipedia. Our friends brought a money gun they bought at a local higher-end novelty store called Artbox, and it was so fun to shoot the money out like we were on a game show after we played.

I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of the tteokguk (떡국) I made - oops! Tteokguk, a rice cake soup with regional variants (e.g., beef versus anchovy base, milky versus clear broth, etc) is the signature dish of Seollal. The delicious, oval-shaped rice cakes symbolize wealth and prosperity to come in the new year. Another friend brought over scrumptious dumplings, and everyone pitched in to fill, wrap, and cook them together. We even had rice cakes other friends purchased at a specialty shop. The group couldn't help but add a few American offerings to the spread, as well, including apple crisp and carrot cake (the latter of which is my one cake recipe and always reminds me of my friend J - when I visited J in England many years ago I loved the cake so much I begged her mom for the recipe).

I'm glad we marked the occasion in our small way. Do you celebrate Seollal or another version of Lunar New Year? Either way, we wish you all the luck and blessings possible. These days, I think we'll take all of those we can get.

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