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Lunar New Year

Celebrating Sul-nal in Korea

By Shalotte Kim | null , null

child hangs a piece of paper with her wish written on it
A child hangs a piece of paper with her name and wish written on it, in Seoul, Korea, on February 18, 2007. (Photo: Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters)

Scholastic Kids Press Corps
Reporting from Korea

March 2007

Sul-nal is the Korean name for Lunar New Year’s Day, which in 2007 was celebrated on February 18. The holiday begins in the morning with young people bowing to their elders. The parents then wish the children well and give them some money.

Sul-nal is a bigger holiday in Korea than the New Year celebrated on January 1. In fact, it is the biggest holiday of the year in Korea. During Sul-nal people use the holiday time to visit relatives and eat a traditional dish made of rice cake soup called dduk gook.

Because Sul-nal is determined by the lunar calendar, it falls on a different date each year. It usually falls somewhere between the end of January and the middle of February.

Koreans play several traditional games on Sul-nal. Nul-Thi-gee is a seesaw, traditionally for women. In Korea long ago women were not allowed to go outside their homes. To see outside they jumped on the seesaw to see over the walls. You jump instead of stomp to play the game. It is hard to jump high and hit the panel the right way.

young boy twirls a wheel
A young boy twirls a Catherine wheel, made of wood chips and straw, in celebration of the lunar new year. (Photo: Lee Jin-man/AP Images)

Kite-flying is called yeon (Kite) nal-li-gee (fly). Korean kites usually have tails and are made of Korean traditional paper. Hanzi is a durable, long-lasting, lightweight paper. The frame is usually made of bamboo or Spindle Tree. The kites usually have a circular hole in the middle.

Yut-nol-ee is a popular game enjoyed by every one. You need four yut sticks and a board. A player throws the four sticks at once on to a carpet of straw. The number of sticks that land up or down determines how far you can move your playing pieces. The first team that moves all four of its pieces to the end wins.

Symbols for Sul-nal are the crane, the sun, and the Korean magpie. The sun means morning and new beginning. The crane means long life and fidelity. The Korean magpie is a symbol of good fortune.

This year is considered the Year of the Golden Pig, which only comes around every 600 years. It is believed that children born in the Year or the Golden Pig live healthy and wealthy lives. Stores will sell golden pig items this year such as golden piggy banks, decorations, T-shirts, and cell phone accessories. Happy New Year!

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