BUSAN, South Korea – The Lunar New Year is one of the biggest holidays for Koreans. Orthodox Koreans start their Lunar New Year's celebrations at midnight, however most start early in the morning. Since the holiday is a Buddhist/Confucian celebration, Christians often don't celebrate the holiday, although they get the time off and are inundated with New Year's greetings and TV specials. It's kind of like Jewish people on Christmas.
They have a ceremony where the family bows to a home made altar crammed with fruit, fish, rice cakes, possibly pictures of the relatives who are being honored, along with liquor and incense. It was quite serene and moving the first time I witnessed it. The tenth through fifteenth time, the mystique was gone. Here's to hoping the sixteenth time adds a laser show. And here are some things you may want to ask:
Do I receive money from my elders? Jaw-doh yong-dohn bah-dah-yo??? ?? ????
(I've checked on this many times and the answer is always 'no' (ahn-nee-yo???). Also,don't give kids coins when they ask you for money. For some reason, they never seem to find the humor in it.
Why do they do that? Wayguh-run goat hahm-nee-kah?? ??? ????
When do I have to bow?(and how many times?) Jaw-nun awn-jay jull hay-yahday-yo?(doh myuht-bone hahm-nee-kah??? ? ???? (? ? ? ?? ???)
How much longer 'til it's over? Jay-sah awn-jay guhn-nah-yo? ?? ?? ????
The Lunar New(sull-lah ??)is February 3rd of this year. For Koreans, it means a memorial ceremony for relatives who have passed on, getting your New Year's lump-sum allowance from your aunts, uncles and grandparents, a hard day's work in the kitchen and/or plenty of holiday TV specials with han-bok clad announcers. For ex-pats it means a much-anticipated long weekend. Why not try out some of your new Korean and do something fun! If you do go native or get roped into going to the memorial service (like me) check out the website for some helpful questions to ask and some ways to pass the time!
… "It's the most wonderful time of the year"… I'm pretty sure when Andy Williams was singing these words, he wasn't in my apartment last week when the boiler went out. Yes, that's right, folks. We're in the throws of winter in Busan! And if the decimation of Korean ground hog population this year is any indication, we are in for a long and cold one. (For the benefit of our non-North American readers, Ground Hog Day is the day when a ground hog comes out of his hole and if he sees his shadow… actually it is too complicated to explain and embarrassing that we actually have a holiday based on the psychology of woodchuck. Please consult the 1993 Bill Murray movie of the same name for details.)
Busan winters are very cold and characterized by little to no snow, and a rather pungent white radish kimchi. On the bright sight, the beaches are virtually free of people (except on the weekend). Not far from Busan though, you can enjoy all the winter sports and snow related fun you are used to back home. Here are some ways you can express your winter preferences, desires, dislikes and requests:
I like to______________. Jaw-nun________-nun gull joh-ah hahm-nee-dah ??_______? ? ?????
I want to_____________. Jaw-nun________-goh sheep-aw-yo. ??______????
I hate (to)____________. Jaw-nun________(-gee) shee-raw-yo. ??_______? ???
Let's go_____________. ________-goh gahp-shee-dah. ______? ???.
Activities (to fill in the blanks of the above phrases):
ski = skee-lull tah ??? ? sled =sull may tah ?? ? snow board = suh-noh boh-duh tah ?? ?? ?
make snowmen = Noon sah-rahm mahn-dull ? ?? ?? make delicious winter kimchi = beck kim-chee mahn-dull ? ?? ??
play in the snow = noon-ay-saw nohl ??? ? write my name in the snow = noon-ay ee-ruhm-ull suh ?? ??? ? eat yellow snow = noh-rahng noon-ull mawg ?? ?? ?
Have language or culture questions for Professor Gus? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.