What would you do if someone gave you a gift of shampoo or toothpaste? If you are an American, you may be insulted. You may think, “What’s wrong? Does my hair look dirty?'” or “Are my teeth yellow?” However, that is not what they think in Korea at all. Next week, is the Korean New Year. Yesterday, at the mall, I saw they had Sol Nal, Korean New Year gifts out and for sale, and I saw them again when we went to E-Mart today. I decided to take a few pictures and show you what kinds of things the Koreans are going to be giving out.
When I was a professor at the university, often, the president of the university sent me a huge box of apples or perhaps a big assortment of Spam and tuna. These are a little more normal for Americans because we also sometimes give fruit or nice meats and cheeses as gifts. However, we don’t usually give Spam and tuna. If we give meat, we give nice salami. Many people in America think of Spam as second class meat, but the Koreans give it as a gift. The president gave me gifts because he gave all the the professors gifts. In Korea, on Sol Nal, the bosses all give gifts out to their employees. My daughter knows she will be getting a gift from her boss too. It is just how things are done in Korea.
At Christmas in America, we often give out cookies or candy. They give out Korean traditional cookies on Sol Nal, but they are not homemade like the Americans give out. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good cookies though. Someone gave me a big box of traditional Korean cookies on a holiday, and I really enjoyed them. There was no flour in them, they were just spun sugar.
Besides these kind of things, they also give out nuts, mushrooms, cooking oil, tea, coffee, and of course, ginseng. If you have read my other blogs, they give you cooking oil to wish riches for you. They think ginseng is very healthy even though modern day scientists have really done tests on the ginseng to find out what it does, and it does not do the many things the Koreans insist it does, but you can’t tell them that. Ginseng has been used for centuries in Korea, and the people, especially the old ones, really believe in it as a cure all medicine.
Bosses give these gifts to employees. Young people give these gifts to their parents. However, no one gives the young people gifts like these. Young people don’t get gifts on Sol Nal. However, if you area child, on Sol Nal, you will be receiving a bag of money from Grandma and Grandpa. In Japan, the kids also receive a bag of money on the Japanese New Year. They look forward to that money every year just like American kids look forward to gifts from Santa at Christmas. My Korean son in law had to work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, but from what I understand, he finally has a day off on Sol Nal! He is going to spend it with his mother. My daughter and son in law will be giving a gift like one of these to his parents.