New Year!

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When asked to go to a Korean home for a traditional Korean meal and new year celebration, we were hesitant and nervous. After some thought, we graciously accepted the offer. Our Canadian co-workers accepted the offer as well. The four of us met Eddie, a very cool Korean man (about our age) at our school in Jinyeong to make the drive to Sacheon. We drove about three hours to Sacheon in a very awesome Kia. The traffic was insane as everyone was driving to the country to visit their family, it seemed. We arrived at Sacheon and met our Korean host family. Afterwards, Eddie took us to a migratory bird observation place, where we hiked and took in some beautiful views of mountains, ocean, and sunset!

When asked to go to a Korean home for a traditional Korean meal and new year celebration, we were hesitant and nervous. After some thought, we graciously accepted the offer. Our Canadian co-workers accepted the offer as well. The four of us met Eddie, a very cool Korean man (about our age) at our school in Jinyeong to make the drive to Sacheon. We drove about three hours to Sacheon in a very awesome Kia. The traffic was insane as everyone was driving to the country to visit their family, it seemed. We arrived at Sacheon and met our Korean host family. Afterwards, Eddie took us to a migratory bird observation place, where we hiked and took in some beautiful views of mountains, ocean, and sunset!

We arrived at the Korean home around 6 p.m. and prepared for dinner. Amazing smells wafted through the air and a floor table was overflowing with food in the middle of the living room. Steaming bowls of rice, whole fish, fried fish fillets, pajong (veggie/crab fritters), kimchi of different varieties, fresh garden vegetables, seaweed soup, plates of apples, persimmons, and asian pear were beautifully displayed. I was so excited for this meal. I asked to take a picture and was told to wait until the ceremony ended. The family began the ceremony as the four of us watched from the kitchen. Incense was lit, drinks were poured, deep bows took place, and the deceased ancestors were welcomed and asked to bless the food and holiday (I assume this through observation and some explanation). I sat in quiet wonder as I knew that I was witnessing something so sacred and special. I know that most foreigners never have the privilege and honor to observe such a special family tradition. I savored every moment. As the ceremony ended, were welcomed to take a photo and then encouraged to sit and eat. The food was amazing. Everything was so fresh and natural. I savored every bite and soaked in every moment of this once in a lifetime experience. This is my one photo.

After dinner, we went to our motel and were picked up the next morning for breakfast and a New Year ceremony. We enjoyed some dishes from the dinner the night before and the traditional meal or rice cake soup. Afterward, we observed and were invited to participate in a ceremony. Everyone bowed to the grandparents and the grandparents gave a blessing and monetary gift. The four of us approached and gave our best bow and Korean New Year offering. We received a blessing of happiness and monetary gift from the grandparents. Afterward, we were driven back to the hotel while the family went to visit burial sites of ancestors. In the car and at the hotel, I became tearful as I was so touched at the kindness and generosity that this family had shown us. It made me miss my own family and our own special holiday traditions. This was my most amazing experience here thus far! We went on a beautiful waterfront walk at our motel as we waited to be picked up at noon to visit a Korean folk village. Here are some photos from the waterfront walk.



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