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Culture Living in Korea

What are Korea’s official holidays?

Shinjeong 신정-  New Year’s Day (Jan 1st of solar calendar)

Like many other countries, the first day of the Gregowrian (solar) calendar is celebrated, and many Koreans visit the coast or the mountains to see the first sunrise of the year. 

2020.01.01 Sunrise from Geoje Island 거제도

Seollal 설날 – Lunar New Year’s Day (Jan 1st of lunar calendar)

It’s a traditional Korean Lunar New Year’s Day (Seollal) and is one of the most important holidays, much more significant than January 1st. Most people travel to their hometowns to visit their families. On this day, Koreans put on hanbok and bows to their elders, and eat tteokguk (rice cake soup) and mandu guk 만두국 (dumpling soup). They also play traditional games like yutnori 윷놀이 (traditional Korean board game), spinning tops, and flying kites. 

RELATED : Why are there two New New Year’s Days in Korea?

Samiljeol 3.1절 – Independence Movement Day (Mar 1)

This is the day of commemorating the Declaration of Independence, which was proclaimed on March 1, 1919, against the Japanese occupation

Eorininal 어린이날 – Children’s Day (May 5)

This is the day all Korean kids wait for! Families celebrate with their kids, wishing them to grow up healthy and smart. They usually go out to amusement parks, zoos, or shopping malls (to buy gifts!) 

Seokgatanshinil 석가탄신일 – Buddha’s Birthday (8th day of 4th lunar month)

Korea traditionally has been a Buddhist country and the traces are found everywhere, especially in this holiday. It’s the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, and you can see beautifully decorated temples across the country.

Jogyesa during Buddha's Birthday Fesitval. Jogyesa is the headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism playing the defining role of Seon Buddhism in South Korea. The temple was first established in 1395, at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty. Natural monument 9, an ancient white pine tree, is located within the temple grounds.
Jogyesa during Buddha’s Birthday Fesitval. Jogyesa is the headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism playing the defining role of Seon Buddhism in South Korea. The temple was first established in 1395, at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty. Natural monument 9, an ancient white pine tree, is located within the temple grounds.
Steve46814, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

RELATED : GORYEO, THE GOLDEN AGE OF KOREAN BUDDHISM (918 ~ 1388)

Hyeonchungil 현충일 – Memorial Day (June 6)

It’s a very emotional day for Koreans as it commemorates and honors the fallen soldiers and civilians who lost their lives fighting for their country during the Korean War. Ceremonies are held at the National Cemetery in Seoul. 

Memorial Day in Korea | 미국인 아내와 국립현충원 | 현충일 | (국제커플 International Couple AMWF)

RELATED : Why is Korea divided? History of Korean War

Learn more about the history of Korean War – The Korean War: A History (Modern Library Chronicles) [Amazon]

And let’s honor US-ROK alliance with 4×6 E-Gloss South Korea Stick Flag w/U.S. Stick Flag & 2 Flag Plastic Table Base [Amazon]

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom [Amazon]

Gwangbokjeol 광복절 – Liberation Day (Aug 15)

Korea became free from the Japanese occupation on this day, when Japan surrendered to the allies in 1945, ending World War II. 

Chuseok 추석 – Fall Harvest Festival (15th day of the 8th lunar month)

Along with Seollal, it’s another very important traditional holiday – Koreans celebrate for a successful harvest year and families get together for memorial rituals called charye, for their ancestors. 

RELATED : Why do so many Korean people travel during Chuseok 추석? Why do Korean people believe there is a rabbit living on the moon?

Why do Korean people offer food to the photos of the ancestors? JESA 제사 – Remembering and honoring the ancestors.

Gaecheonjeol 개천절 – National Foundation Day (Oct 3)

According to the founding stories of Gojoseon 고조선, the first nation ever built on the Korean peninsula, the legendary God-King Dangun 단군, proclaimed the beginning of the nation. The founding date, or gaecheonjeol 개천절 (The opening day of Heaven) is celebrated at Chamseongdan Altar 참성단 on top of Manisan Mountain 마니산 in Ganghwado Island 강화도. 

RELATED : Who founded Korea? How did Korea begin? Is it true that Koreans are descendants of bears…?

Hangul Day 한글날 (Oct 9)

It’s when the publication of Hunminjeongeum 훈민정음 (The Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People), the basis of Korean Alphabet, hangul 한글, was proclaimed in 1446 by King Sejong The Great

Thank you, King Sejong the Great!

RELATED : Do Koreans speak Chinese or Japanese? Why Chinese characters are seen everywhere in Korea? Who invented hangul 한글 the Korean alphabet?

Who are the people on the Korean currency notes?

If you like funny T-shirts with Hangul on it – “I INVENTED HANGUL” King Sejong Korean T-Shirt Funny [Amazon]

Christmas (Dec 25)

Korea has a large percentage of Christians, and Christmas is celebrated all over the country, where couples reaffirm their love and families get together for quality time.

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