Happy New Year Y'all! I know, it sounds a little strange to say on January 26th.
January 28th is New Year's Day in Korea, which is 15 hours ahead. Since Korea uses both Gregorian calendar and Lunar calendar, we celebrate both New Year's Day. However, Lunar New Year's Day is more like family gathering and the biggest holiday in Korea. Just like Christmas in America, but Christmas is not a family holiday in Korea.
Since I came to Oklahoma, I've been missing all the family gathering holidays in Korea. While my family is busy with getting ready for big holidays and friends are arranging a reunion during the holiday, I have to go to school and work on projects. I'm telling you. It's not fun at all.
On New Year's Day, we go to either paternal grandparents' house or oldest uncle's house and have ancestral ritual to honor familial ancestors. Then, we have sebae, my favorite! Kids wish their elder relatives, such as parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, a happy new year with a deep bow and saying "receive a lot of luck in the New Year." After then, the elder relatives give them some money.
So, I've gotten nothing since I came here. No sebae money. I used to be the one who got the most money among my friends because I have lots of uncles, aunts, and many of my cousins were already grown up and had a job so they gave me money, too. Thanks to my absence, my sister has been getting all money!
Even worse, when the whole family FaceTime me right before I go to bed. Some people loves FaceTiming with relatives on holidays because they've missed their relatives. Of course, I miss my relatives, but they usually call me right before I go to sleep. It's usually at the end of the day (after surviving one more day in America) so I'm in pajama and look pretty bad and tired. Then, they hand it over each other because everyone says "Let me talk to Yoni!", and I have to say exactly same thing more than 10 times! I'm sorry, guys but I always felt like a monkey in a zoo. So, this year, I told my parents to FaceTime me before they go to family gathering and tell the relatives that I already went to bed. Haha Clever!
Being far away from family on holidays is one of the few things that I don't like about studying abroad. It's so sad that you miss family gathering, holiday food, traditions and special holiday atmosphere in your own culture. Or being a monkey in a little phone screen!
How I deal with this? I just make some Korean foods and share it with some other friends who miss their family, or binge watching Korean TV shows to make me feel like I'm home. Although I wasn't with my family, I could still make it special in many ways. Don't waste your holiday by just missing them and doing nothing. Try to find out your own way to celebrate your holiday!