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Don’t Go to Sleep on New Year’s Eve Posted by on Dec 28, 2016 in Korean Language, Vocabulary

Try to stay up on New Year’s Eve, otherwise your eyebrows will turn white next morning.

새해 복 많이 받으세요! (Happy New Year!)

 Why stay up on New Year’s Eve?

As a child, I remember trying so hard to stay awake on New Year’s Eve. My grandma and mother used to tell me, “If you don’t stay up all night, your 눈썹 (eyebrows) will turn 하얀색 (white) next morning.” Although my head was bobbing and 눈꺼풀 (eyelids) were so heavy, being scared to death, I did my best to stay awake: pinching my eyelids, washing my 얼굴 (face) with cold water, getting fresh air, and walking around. As you can guess, I always ended up dozing off to sleep, and in a panic I ran straight to the 거울 (mirror) as soon as I woke up the next morning. For many years, I used to run straight to the mirror to check my eyebrow color on New Year’s morning. Some of my friends shared their stories of finding themselves with white eyebrows on the New Year’s morning due to their siblings’ or family members’ pranks.

Later on, I learned that this is an old custom to keep people up on New Year’s Eve: in order to encourage people to look back at the old year and make good plans for the new year. Korean ancestors try to teach people a lesson: you need to be prepared for the upcoming year.

What do Koreans do on New Year’s Eve?

Although it is freezing cold outside, tens of thousands of Korean people will turn out in 종로 (Jongno in Seoul) to catch a glimpse of the landmark 보신각 종 (Boshingak Bell) and listen to 33 rings of the bell at midnight of December 31. This is one of the popular traditions of Korean 시민들 (citizens) to say good-bye to the old year and welcome the New Year with friends and family members. 서울 시장 (Mayor of Seoul), several other government officials, and selected citizens will ring the bell together to mark the end of the year and announce the beginning of the New Year. Due to a large crowd gathering at late hours, the city will provide special extended service hours of the subways and buses for the citizens.

People also like to ride night trains to go to the beach to see the first 해돋이 (sunrise) of the new year. 정동진 (Jengdongjin) in the east coast of south Korea is a quaint place that people love to go to watch 해돋이. This place became famous after filming a popular Korean drama 모래시계 (The Sandglass aka Hourglass). This show was one of the highest-rated TV series in Korea.

There are many other popular places to enjoy picturesque 해돋이 sites in Korea, and some itinerary will offer special events to the passengers, such as recreation, karaoke system, and board game cafe.

송년회 is very popular among Korean people. What is 송년회? It is a year-end party that 친구들 (friends), 동료들 (coworkers), or 반 친구들 (classmates) get together with drinking and eating to ring out the outgoing year. People take this party as an opportunity to connect or reconnect with people around them. Whether you liked or disliked your coworkers during the year, people will try to put all the bad feelings behind and have a good time together to welcome a beginning of the New Year. Korean bosses or seniors might give brief(?) speeches to employees or juniors during the 송년회.

New Year’s Greeting

새해 복 많이 받으세요! (Happy New Year!)

It literally means, please receive much fortune in the New Year!

  • 새해 (New Year)
  • (fortune)
  • 많이 (much)
  • 받으세요 ( Please receive)

I would like to take a quick moment to say “정말 감사합니다 (Thank you very much!)” for reading my blog, leaving positive comments, and most of all allowing me to share my passion in Korean language and culture. Best wishes for a happy New Year to everyone!!!

새해 복 많이 받으세요! (Happy New Year!)

감사합니다! (Thank you!)

***Related Vocabulary***

  1. 새해 복 많이 받으세요! (Happy New Year!)
  2. 하얀색 (white)
  3. 눈썹 (eyebrows)
  4. 눈꺼풀 (eyelids)
  5. 얼굴 (face)
  6. 거울 (mirror)
  7. 종로 (Jongno in Seoul)
  8. 보신각 종 (Boshingak bell)
  9. 시민들 (citizens)
  10. 서울 시장 (Mayor of Seoul)
  11. 해돋이 (sunrise)
  12. 정동진 (Jengdongjin)
  13. 송년회 (Year-end party)
  14. 친구들 (friends)
  15. 동료들 (coworkers)
  16. 반 친구들 (classmates)

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About the Author: Kyung-Hwa

안녕하세요? My name is Kyung-Hwa, and I am a native of South Korea. I am accustomed to both English and Korean languages and cultures. I greatly appreciate and love both of them. I am passionate about learning different languages, and I have studied English, Japanese, and Spanish. In my spare time, I take joy in singing, playing the piano, and reading books. I also enjoy traveling around the world, meeting people, and embracing new cultures and languages...