Happy Lunar New Year

If you read my New Year’s post from a few weeks back, you already know how little interest I have in New Year’s Day as a holiday or tradition. Perhaps it is not surprising, therefore, given the theme of this website — life in Limbo — that I have been saddled with a perpetual punishment suited to my peculiar form of crankiness, namely living in a society with not one, but two, New Year’s Days. Today, January 28th, is Lunar New Year, commonly known in the West (though not in Korea, for obvious reasons) as Chinese New Year.

Here in Korea, the holiday is called “Seollal” (sometimes alternately transliterated as “Seolnal”), and it is one of the two most important holidays of the year. (Korean Thanksgiving, Chuseok, being the other biggie.)

To look at the bright side of my personal surfeit of useless celebrations of the calendar, Seollal brings a real blessing to my life. As it is a three-day national holiday, and falls during the Korean university calendar’s winter vacation, its occurence basically clears my campus of all the riff-raff, i.e., humans, leaving me almost free run of the place, particularly today, New Year’s Day itself. So today, my daily walk around the campus having been even more pleasant and peaceful than usual, I feel I ought to show gratitude to the great god, Calendar, or to the Moon, who enters her “new” phase on this day, by sharing a few photos from my happy wandering.

To really understand the Korean aesthetic, you must live among her trees for a while

Bending, leaning, crooked, shadowy nature — that’s Korea

The play of light and shadow is more important than functionality in this arbor

A path in the woods: perhaps as close as I’ll ever get to Heaven (Limbo suits me)

Korea’s national bird, the magpie — basically a crow with character

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