What are Lunar New Year Gift sets?

Spam season is here again. Yes, it’s Lunar New Year next weekend. So we are being inundated with flyers advertising New Year gift sets – adverts are stuck with sellotape to our front door, sandwiched inside our newspapers, or sent directly in the post.

Costco is advertising its American beef, raw prawns marinated in soy sauce, wine, and fruit sets. Our local Nonghyeop supermarket suggests a set of 10 dried yellow corvina fish for 270,000 won or a 4kg Korean beef galbi set for 310,000 won! Emart is offering fresh ginseng for 69,800 won. And a company specialising in rice cakes will deliver boxes of rice cakes filled with ground cowpeas, beans, or sweetened sesame delivered right to our door.

The Kim Young Ran law which came in to effect last year puts a limit of 50,000 won on gifts for people in public office – but for friends and family there is no limit on how much to spend on a new year gift.

Since many people do their shopping online these days I had a look around the Interpark online shopping site to see what tempting gift sets they might have. The cheapest sets start at around 10,000 won. For that you can get coffee or tea sets, perhaps some shampoo. The classic gift (for salarymen anyway) is the Spam set. This spam set below includes spam, canola oil (from Canada apparently) sesame oil and some herb salt. On sale for 24,500 won. A practical gift and great if you like Spam…

spam at new year

But for something a bit more luxurious how about this lovely looking cake set with all sorts of fillings? Great for people with a large family or lots of friends…


new year gift sets

It’s on sale for 120,480 won (down from 150,000 won) so it’s not cheap but it looks magnificent. I haven’t tried it though, so I can’t comment on the taste …

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 20.55.09

Food is a popular gift, especially meat, fish, or fruit that can be put on the ancestral table and offered to the ancestors on New Year’s morning. I’ve seen many sets of dried persimmon, Asian pears, oranges or these tangerines from the island of Jeju in the far south of Korea.

jeju tangerines

Items that are good for health are another idea for new year gifts, and in particular Korean Ginseng. Prices vary but this set comes in at the high end at 460,000 won (down from 600,000 won). Expensive, but you could use the box after for something …


In the kitchen section there were sets of the special dishes used to carry out the ancestral rites ceremonies.  I thought this one below (Interpark website) in particular was interesting as it’s a portable set. It closes up into a nice case with a handle. Very handy for a trip to the countryside to visit a family grave. And all for a reasonable 28,500 won.

new year chesa set

My mother in law doesn’t use the traditional dishes anymore (it’s double the washing up because after the ceremony you have to put the food into regular dishes before you can eat it :( ) but here’s what our family ate last year on Lunar New Year’s day.

There’ll be plenty of people who are not looking forward to the holidays though. And there’s a word for that –  명절 테러 myeong-cheol te-ro – ‘Holiday Terror’. This describes the feeling that daughters-in-law get at the prospect of having to spend the holidays with their in-laws! (not me of course 😉 ) In this post I wrote about some of the difficulties that sons-in-law have with their mother-in-laws too.

2 thoughts on “What are Lunar New Year Gift sets?

  • January 20, 2017 at 8:05 am

    I love the Spam gift set.x

    • January 22, 2017 at 4:46 pm


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