Korean Holidays and Unique Traditions

Korea traditional day and holidays

Are you interested in what makes Korean holidays and traditions so special that they create such a unique culture?

Discover it by reading about Korea’s holidays and traditions. Celebrating Seollal and Chuseok, coming up with original customs for occasions like,

  • Coming of Age Day and Pyebaek,
  • Joining the Gaecheonjeol celebration,
  • Exploring Ssireum and
  • Wearing Hanbok.

All this and so much more can be found in this guide.

Learn what Korea celebrates lively holidays all about. Whether it is the Lunar New Year and Thanksgiving festivals on Gaecheonjeol or the national alphabet day, the people of Korea have many reasons to go wild.

Seollal (Lunar New Year)

Seollal Korean Lunar New Year. Celebrated with family, ancestor honoring ceremony, and Tteokguk – a soup with rice cakes. A symbol of rebirth and family.

Seollal

Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)

Korean Thanksgiving, celebrates the harvest and family reunions.

Traditions that have to be respected,

  • Such as ancestral rituals,
  • Sharing feasts and Folk games like ssireum.
Chuseok

Gaecheonjeol (National Foundation Day)

Gaecheonjeol is the celebration of the legendary setting up of Korea by Dangun.

Held on 3rd October, the event is signified to remember the tradition of Korea and give rise to it again.

Hangul Day

Hangul Day marks the invention of linguistics by King Sejon the Great. The 9 th of October is a day to celebrate Korean culture and remember its roots.

Hangul Day

Independence Movement Day

Independence Movement Day is 1st of March, it celebrates Korea’s declaration of independence from Japanese colonial rule in 1919.

Celebrated with nationalist demonstrations and ceremonies throughout the country

Independence Movement Day

Children's Day

There are other holidays in Korea which may sound strange to visitors to the country.

Children’s Day is on May 5, and children in Korea are given presents while spending outdoor fun activities such as picnics to remind them of their importance in society.

Buddha's Birthday (Seokga Tansinil)

Seokga Tansinil is celebrated with lantern festivals all over Korea, when Buddha is born. Traditional rituals, colorful lanterns, and temple events take place on this most blessed day.

New Year's Day (Solar)

Korean New Year’s Day (Solar) , also known as “Seollal” marks the first day of the lunar calendar. Families gather for,

  • Ancestral rituals,
  • Feasting and traditional games.

Christmas Day

Korea celebrates Christmas Day as well and enjoys the festive lights, decorations, and gifts.

Though not a traditional Korean holiday, it is becoming more and more popular and may even include romantic outings and gift giving.

Constitution Day

Constitution Day in Korea is held to remember the country’s announce of its first constitution in 1948.

It is noticed on July 17 and is celebrated with various events and ceremonies which highlight the importance of the institution of democracy.

Unique Korean traditions

Explore Korea’s unique traditions, including Seollal and Chuseok. In addition, look into practices such as Coming of Age Day and Pyebaek, and events like Doljanchi and Jeongwol Daeboreum.

Seollal (Korean New Year)

The Korean New Year is celebrated with family, ancestral rituals, and foods such as tteokguk , a rice cake soup.

Its meaning is to mark new beginnings and show respect to ancestors.

Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)

Chuseok korean thanksgiving, celebrated with family gatherings and feasting on traditional foods like songpyeon, and freshly harvested fruits.

Coming of Age Day (Hwangap)

Korean tradition celebrating adulthood at 60. Family gathers, offering congratulations and well wishes. It represents wisdom and respect for elders.

Jeongwol Daeboreum (First Full Moon Festival)

First full moon holiday occurs during the lunar new year. Koreans perform outdoor activities like,

  • Eating,
  • Playing games and
  • Food containing Ogokbap.

After which evil spirits are driven away.

Doljanchi (First Birthday Celebration)

Doljanchi is a Korean traditional ceremony through which a child celebrates his or her 1st birthday.

This event includes the so-called Doljabi in which a baby will choose some symbolic objects which will later predict his or her future.

Baek-il (100th Day Celebration for Babies)

It celebrates a baby’s 100th day of life, a sign of survival and hopefully health. Family and friends gather to bless the baby and give gifts and it is a symbol of stability and the hope for a good life in Korean culture.

Gosa (Korean Rituals and Prayers)

The Korean ritual is performed for the protection and good future of family and individual members.

Monks or shamans do the ritual to have a prosperous life when one is starting a family, celebrating a birthday, or needs spiritual guidance.

Pyebaek (Traditional Korean Wedding Ceremony)

At the reception, the bride and groom perform a traditional Korean ceremony in which they bow respectfully to honor their parents and ancestors. This act is considered to be highly Meaningful as it reflects the value of respectful piety and the importance of family.

Ssireum (Korean Wrestling)

This is known as Korea traditional wrestling. It is a type of wrestling that has been practiced in Korea for centuries.

This type of wrestling is done by wearing a belt around the waists and thighs of the wrestlers, they try to force each other to put any part of the body but the feet on the ground.

Namsadang Nori (Traditional Korean Performing Arts Troupe)

Namsadang Nori is a performing arts group of traditional Korean arts, which encompasses acrobatics, music, and satire.

They were established in the Josean era, and they both entertain and educate audiences across the country.

Frequently Ask Questions (FQAs)

What is the biggest festival in Korea?

Along with the Lunar New Year’s Day, Chuseok, or Hangawi, is one of the biggest and most important holidays in Korea, which is held on the 15th day of lunar August.

What is the age tradition in Korea?

Koreans who use the traditional system refer to their age in units called Sal (살), using Korean numerals in ordinal form.

Thus, a person is one Sal (han sal [한 살]) during the first calendar year of life, and ten Sal during the tenth calendar year.

What is a lucky day in Korea?

In terms of the best day for kimjang, traditionally Koreans would choose one of several ‘days without son’. 

‘Son’ means ‘demon’, and so a day without ‘son’ on the lunar calendar was known to be a lucky day, where good things would happen.

Why is 100 days important in Korea?

Traditionally the number 100 has a deep meaning of maturity in Korea, making it past the first 100 days was a sign that you would live to see your first birthday, and making it past your first birthday was a sign that you would make it out of infancy.

What is the Korean family tradition?

In Korea, family traditionally means the group who are related by blood, live under the same roof, and share the household.

The extended family in which a couple and their married children live together with their children was the typical and traditional Korean family.

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