Monday, February 14, 2011

Year 2 - Lunar New Year

Another blast from the past. :) I found this old email from my 2nd year in Korea.
Date: 31-Jan-03 05:03 PM

Happy New Year Again

Say goodbye to the year of the Horse and welcome in the year of the Goat. Saturday is the start of the next Lunar Year. While 2002 was the year of the Water Horse, 2003 is the year of the Water Goat. Every Lunar Year in Asia is associated with one of 12 animals and 5 elements.

In Korea everyone eats Dduk Guk New Year Day. It is a type of rice noodle soup.

Here is an excerpt about the new year that I got from for more information on what the year means to each astrological sign go to


February 1, 2003 through January 21, 2004

February 1, 2003 heralds in the Year of the Water/Black Goat "Gui Wei" Most signs go into a state of "relapse," taking inventory and even doing some "damage control."

Relief is in sight during 2003, as the Goat/Ram who's essence is "propriety" brings a more relaxed and yielding year. Goat years are more "delicate," artistic, capricious, and full of "whimsy". Inspired by harmony, and feminine -Yin (balancing out the male +Yang of the previous Horse year), Goat years are creative, imaginative and ingenious!

Art galleries, forms and colors, and extravagant spending prevails. Rather
indifferent to the rules of society, the Goat is the most inconstant of the
zodiac years. Irresponsible? Undisciplined? Eccentric? Absolutely! But also
more peaceful, creative and adaptable. Goat years leap from one imaginary
cloud to the next, seeking novelty, beauty, and the path of least

A feminine -Yin year of intuition, finesse, and good taste. As the hot-headed Horse year releases it's hold, the tranquillity-loving Goat offers elegance, delicacy, and the more aesthetic things in life. The down-side is a risk of becoming lost in fantasy, brooding and lack of responsibility. Bills go unpaid, mundane work is detestable, and dependency on wealth and comforts abound. A lack of organization and resisting routine in all it's forms, also constitutes un-punctual Goat years.

The good-news is that the Goat's "live and let live" attitude will be helpful in resolving conflicts brewed up in the previous Snake and Horse years. The Water element, which is with us again this year, has no form of it's own, and is forced to conform and take on the shape of what contains it. A lazier year, more dependent and changeable -- where outward appearances can be deceiving. All must avoid the sleeping, muddy waters of delays and inactivity.

While continuing to move closer to the ideals of spiritual oneness, we must continue to contend with our share of intolerant, provincially minded dictators. Similar to the barbarians of the past (Hitler, Stalin, Tse-tung, Napoleon, Idi Amin, Po poi, and Genghis Khan) our generation must contend with the likes of un-evolved extremists such as Bin Laden, Sadam Hussein, and the brutality of the North Korean government... Like all narcissistic conquerors who assume they are entitled to rule and to intimidate by some divine right, these dictators must be harshly dealt with like the petulant tyrants they are. We continue through the painful stages of a woman in labor, to be free from the stranglehold of despotism and tyranny.

Uneven distribution of rainfall, and some areas may suffer from flood (lower areas) or drought (higher elevations.) No food shortages, but the cost of living could increase drastically. Capricious Goat years also tend to bring rather dramatic shifts in government, politics and distribution of wealth. Expect the unexpected this year, and know that not all things are as they seem on the surface. Just as disaster seems eminent, deliverance and rescue arrives at the 11th hour. Best results are attained by remaining flexible. These changeable astral aspects stabilize after Fall/Autumn of 2003.


My plan for the New Year is to enjoy a 3 day weekend and hopefully get rid of whatever it is that I have virus wise. January was a long and busy month so I plan to enjoy the weekend and get a lot of sleep.

The other day, well night actually, I was talking with a friend. We drifted into a discussion of marriage and the differences between East and West. She told me some interesting things about marriage in Korea.

In Korea, the man is supposed to provide the home. When they first get married this should be at LEAST a 2 bedroom apartment. That way they have a guest room. A three bedroom is considered best. Koreans tend to call their apartments houses. Most are actually more like condos than apartments. You actually buy your apartment.

There are several ways to get a "house". First is to pay wonsae (won say), which is what we know as monthly rent in the west. Then there is another method the name of which eludes me. Baiscally you pay for the year in advance. When you use this method you tend to get a discount. If a years rent would be 3.6 million Won you might only pay 3 million since it is all done in one lump sum.

The third way is called Chonsae. With Chonsae you pay a large sum of money up front. The interest of it is enough to pay the monthly rent. At the end of the year you get the money back, or can leave it in place for another year. This used to be the most common way of paying rent, and is still fairly common in a lot areas. It is one reason why it is hard for the younger generation to move out and get their own apartment without parental help.

It is the womans responsibility to provide furniture and electronics for the house. She is supposed to make sure it has all the furniture needed, appliances, etc. This can be almost as expensive as supplying a home, or even more so.

While they do not exchange rings per se as in the west jewelry is involved. Each is supposed to provide the other with a matching ring, watch, and for the woman necklace and earrings.

When they marry they are supposed to give out a LOT of gifts. The closer the relation the more expensive the gift is supposed to be. The big ticket items go to their parents, grand parents, and siblings. Male relations after that are supposed to get a suit of some sort. Female relations a dress. This would extend to nieces, nephews, great uncles and aunts, great nieces and nephews, and close cousins.

Those who go to the wedding are expected to give a cash gift to the happy couple. After all the money they spent on everything they need the cash. ;)

While the cost of the wedding itself may not be as high as in the west, they still have to pay out a lot of money.

Time to go take some more oriental medicine.

Happy Lunar New Year


I really enjoyed the talk about wedding customs with my friend. I still am not sure which (Western or Korean) wedding is the most expensive. I think, with all the levels of gift giving, the Korean could be but then again the money gifts may offset some of that.

Oriental medicine. I am still torn about its usefulness. While recovering from an arm injury I have to say accupuncture did help. The "potions" you are given to drink ... I am not so sure of.

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