Yesterday was a combo day... Valentines Day AND Korean Lunar New Year. In Korea, Lunar New Year took precedence. It's a big deal for families and we even got a day off work!
SangKwun and Birth Father both came to Korea for the holiday. Yesterday we went bright and early to Birth Father's apartment for the traditional New Year's soup, 떡국. It's basically rice cakes and dumplings with eggs and beef. Every Korean eats this to celebrate the New Year and when they eat it, they turn a year older. Koreans don't believe they turn a year older on their actual birthday, everyone just turns a year older on the first of the year when they eat this soup.
I forgot to take a picture until I'd eaten half of it, but here's a shot of it...
We also had a ton of side dishes. Here's Birth Father with our table of food...
Later that day, Father's two brothers, their wives, and daughters came over. We ate 삼겹살, small fish, some sort of spicy soup. It was kind of funny when the aunts arrived, they immediately kicked SangKwun out of the kitchen, took over the cooking and dish washing, and didn't leave until they left the apartment the next morning. It's surprising to Mark and I how much Korean women seem to wait on the men.
We got to witness my cousins do the 세배 (sae bae). This is when the kids bow to their elders to honor their ancestors. Then they receive money. I was surprised... when they did it for Birth Father, the two younger ones got about $40 and the oldest one got $100! Now that's a worthwhile bow! :)
I didn't take pictures, but here's a YouTube vide of what it looks like if you're interested. No, no one was wearing hanboks for the 세배 I saw.
Afterwards, Birth Father broke out his Ballantine's 21-year-old scotch, and the men polished off a bottle and a half of it. The night went on and on until finally one of the uncles (the youngest one who seems to like to party) passed out in the second bedroom. It was then decided that everyone would spend the night.
The next morning, when we got up, the women were again hard at work making a Korean breakfast. We had another soup, which was really good.
It was really interesting to see the Korean traditions in practice. I think this is definitely something we could take home with us.... especially that delicious 떡국! :)