Find Out What South Koreans Eat to Help Celebrate the Lunar New Year

David Lee, Feb. 8, 2016, 7:49 a.m.


The tradition in Korea is to eat tteokguk or rice cake soup, and manduguk or dumpling soup on Lunar New Year's Day. Eating them is thought to bring good fortune for the following year. Records of seasonal customs from the 19th century say that to make tteoguk, rice cakes are cut into the shape of coins and put in meat broth. The coin symbolizes prosperity, and the white color of the rice alludes to cleansing.

There are some records that say without eating a bowl of tteokguk, one cannot get a year older. There are surprisingly many kinds of tteokguk. Kaesong in North Korea has snowman-shaped joraengi tteokguk. There is also one with rice sediments and another with rice flour made into a dough with boiling water. Some tteokguk has rice or noodles in it, and some features cakes made of wheat flour.

One magazine from 1938 picks out dumpling soup as the special dish for the New Year. A bowl of noodles or rice cake soup with dumplings in it was regarded as an appropriate welcome for guests.
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