Holidays in Korea


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A brief explanation on Korea's observances and holidays

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Holidays in Korea

  1. 1. South Korea has many different holidays, and they are often different from theother world widely observed or celebrated holidays. The following national holidaysare observed by everyone in Korea. Some holidays (about three) are based on thelunar calendar and change dates every year, and some (about 7) are based on thesolar (Western) calendar and are on the same day every year. On holidays, schools,banks, and offices are mostly closed, but most entertainment complexes, parks, malls,restaurants, etc. are open. Anyways, here is a brief explanation of Korean holidays.These dates are 2012.First and probably most important, “SEOLLAL” (Korean: 설날)On this day the celebration is much more significant than the 1 st of January. In2012, Seollal is held on the 22 nd to the 24th of January. Seollal can be also thoughtof as Lunar New Year. Dates can vary from late January to February. On this daybusinessmen and students all go back to their homes and hometowns to celebratethis holiday and reunite with their families. Families have fun on this day, andpeople can play traditional games, fly kites, or spin tops. One of the mostimportant parts of Seollal is the bow. On the day people wake up early, dress intheir best clothes, and start the morning with a bow to their elders. It is not areligious thing or anything, but it is done to show respect and gratitude towardyour elders. As you bow, you say, “Happy New Year” or “May your new year beblessed”, or something along the lines of these. After the bow, rewards are given,and they are most commonly money, mostly sealed in a red or white envelope.Also, special foods are eaten this day, and two of them are Mandu – Guk (Koreanwanton soup), or Tteokguk (Korean rice cake soup). Most companies and officesgive employees three days off on this observance.
  2. 2. Second, Sam – IL Jeol (Independence Movement Day) (1st of March)(Korean: 삼일절)This day marks the March 1 st, 1919 independence movement against Japanese rule.On this day Koreans observe the anniversary of the March 1, 1919 IndependenceMovement. On that day, Korean nationalists fought bravely for their country andtheir independence, but as usual were denied by the Japanese with their swordsand rifles. On this day, there is a special gathering where the Korean Declarationof Independence is read.Third, Eorininal (Children‟s Day) (5th of May) (Korean: 어린이날)This day, the 5th of May, is a day dedicated to children. On this day parents andguardians dress up their little ones, and head out to the theatre, mall, a presentshop, or the theme park for a day full of fun. This day was originally founded byBang Jung Hwan, who thought that children and the little ones of our nations werethe ones who really should be praised, because they are to grow up and be goodpeople. Also, children are the country‟s future hopes, so they should be raisedwell, in my opinion.Fourth, Hyunchung – Il (Korean Memorial Day) (Korean: 현청일)Memorial Day is held on the 6 th of June. The day commemorates (marks /remembers) the men and women who died while in military service in the KoreanWar. This day also commemorates the people who took part in independencemovements under Japanese Rule and cruelly killed and beaten savagely by theJapanese. On this day, a national commemoration ceremony is held in the SeoulNational Cemetery. Families stay at home and mourn their friends of family whohave died or they attend the national commemoration ceremony at the SeoulNational Cemetery, where many brave nationalists and presidents sleep.Fifth, Constitution Day (Jaeheon – Jeol) (Korean: 제헌절)This day commemorates the adoption of democracy of the Republic of Korea in1948. Note: Starting from 2008 Constitution Day is no longer a Korean nationalholiday. Korea will continue to celebrate this day but government offices, schoolsand private businesses will remain open.
  3. 3. Sixth, Gwangbok – Jeol (Liberation Day) (Korean: 광복절)Gwangbok – Jeol is held on the 15th of August in the western calendar. This daycommemorates the liberation of South Korea from the cruel rule under ImperialJapan. This day was a great day for all nationalists and our brave fighters forindependence and freedom. The word Gwangbok means „restoration of light‟. Thisis what this day means to Korean people. On this day, schools and businesses areclosed.Seventh, CHUSEOK (Mid – Autumn Harvest Festival or KoreanThanksgiving) (Korean: 추석)Chuseok is considered probably the most important holiday in Korea. Chuseok canalso be thought as the Korean thanksgiving. That is because on this day, peopleget their days off work, and the first thing they probably do is go to theirhometowns and reunite with their families. On this celebration people give thanksfor their autumn harvests and the moon. Chuseok usually takes place on a fullmoon day. One of the major foods prepared and eaten during the Chuseok holidayis songpyeon (송편),a Korean traditional rice cake which contains deliciousstuffing made with healthy ingredients such as sesame seeds, black beans,cinnamon, pine nut, walnut, chestnut, jujube, and honey.Eighth and the last, Hangul – Nal (Hangul Day) (Korean:광복절)This day marks the creation of the Korean alphabet and language, precisely thehunmin - jeongum, created by King Sejong in1447. This day is an important day forKoreans, as language is the root of a nation. However, this day is not considered anational holiday, but instead an observation, which means that schools and officesare still open.