Eastern Carolina church celebrates Lunar New year as congregation

A Korean Church rang in the new year in a traditional way
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 8:34 PM EST
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WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Peace Presbyterian Church families and congregation brought in the Lunar New Year with Korean traditions, lunch, and games.

This new year celebration doesn’t always take place within the church, however, the Lunar New Year fell on a Sunday, and the Korean congregation at the Winterville Church wanted to practice the Saebae tradition of celebrating the new year together.

“[Sabae is] the bowing to new year greeting, it’s called blessing bow to the parent,” said Byung Lee, an elder church member.

After children bow to their parents, the parents then bless their children, typically by giving them money.

“Many Korean children even Asian children forget about our culture so we want them to have this Korean culture, Asian culture instilled at heart,” said Lee.

Once the children are blessed, the husband and wife simultaneously bow to and bless each other, and then the celebration continues with classic Korean dishes.

“We are eating traditional meals, which is rice cake, white rice cake. It’s representing purity and for people to live long life without get sick,” said Lee.

Many say they are very thankful they’re still able to participate in traditional Korean celebrations.

“To be able to keep this tradition alive especially nowadays where everyone is busy and we were lucky this year since it’s a Sunday, everyone is able to congregate and eat really good food and talk about the importance of Lunar New Year,” said Michelle Song, a church member.

According to the lunar calendar, there are 24 other celebrations throughout the year but this first one is the biggest celebration, and each lunar year a new animal is named to symbolize the upcoming year. The church elder tells WITN a black rabbit represents 2023 for wisdom and abundant blessing.