What's the Proper Way to Bow on Lunar New Year?

  • By Lee Haan-su

    January 21, 2023 08:24

    The Institute of Korean Confucian Culture early this week laid down the law on the proper way to bow on the Lunar New Year's Day. According to the institute, the rules are simple but immutable.
    The bows are typically performed after the ancestral memorial rite in the morning of the Lunar New Year's Day.
    When the elder members of a family sit down to accept homage, their sons and grandsons stand on the left, while their daughters and granddaughters stand on the right. Or if where the elders sit is considered north, the younger males should stand in the east and younger females in the west.
    When bowing, fold their hands over their abdomen. Men place their left hand on top of their right, but women their right over their left, representing yin and yang.
    Now kneel down and bow. This is why cushions are placed on the floor -- do not step on them. The folded hands must not be separated until they finish bowing or "saebae."
    There are some clear shibboleths here. The institute explained that placing their hands on their sides or knees while bowing, for example, flies in the face of tradition.
    After bowing, everyone can sit down. Parents or seniors can start the ritual exchange of blessings, such as "I hope you stay healthy this year." Then the younger family members can respond.
    Do not forget to give some cash to the young people bowing as well. The amount should increase according to age.
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