Lunar New Year or Seollal (설날) is the biggest national celebration in Korea. This family holiday involves eating traditional food, remembering ancestors and enjoying each other’s company. Gifts are traditionally brought to the occasion as a symbol of gratitude and love. Many feel stressed this time of year as selecting appropriate gifts can be difficult. On average ₩20,000~50,000 (£10~30) is spent per person, but some spend a lot more. The following gift ideas will show you care but won’t break the bank.
The classic holy trinity of Seollal gifts is meat, fish, and fruit. The gifts are useful because they can be displayed for the memorial ceremony and eaten later for the family meal. Korea is a meat loving nation so high quality cuts of Korean beef (한우 ‘hanwoo’) will always be appreciated. Dried fish such as yellow corvina (조기 ‘jogi’ and 굴비 ‘goolbi’) are traditional and play an important part in the memorial ceremony. Fresh fruits such as Korean apples and pears are delicious and big enough to feed the whole family. If fruits are too heavy and bulky to carry, online services provide delivery straight to your doorstep.
Olive oil, spam and canned tuna have become common gifts to give during this time of year. For a unique flair international teas and spices are good alternatives. The popularity of cooking and food shows have made many people open up to spices and international food. Premium teas and honey also come in sophisticated and luxurious packaging to make these useful products more appealing.
Well-being and Medicine
During this family holiday, people normally travel to their hometown to visit parents and family elders. Health foods such as ginseng (홍삼 ‘hongsam’), vitamins, omega 3 and other traditional Korean herbal medicines are the most popular choice as seniors often need them. They can take many forms which gives it a wide price bracket. A large whole ginseng root can be very expensive, but drinks and powders are more affordable.
Bringing gifts is not only traditional, but also modern etiquette. Seollal is a day to appreciate ancestors and family, and a gift is perfect way to treat your loved ones. Happy Year Of The Monkey!
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