With the Christmas season ending and the new year about to begin, I’ve been thinking a lot about holidays in Korea. While Christmas isn’t a big celebrated holiday here, there are many other unique holidays to enjoy. If you ever find yourself moving to or traveling to Korea, you may want to brush up on some of these holidays!
Korean New Year (Seollal)
Koreans do celebrate the new year, but they also celebrate Korean new year! This is celebrated on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month. This is one of the biggest holidays! Koreans pay respects to their ancestors and gather with their family. Some families choose to dress up in hanbok, traditional Korean attire. Most people choose to start their day eating tteokguk, which is a soup with rice cakes. Family members often prepare meals together during this time!
Parents’ Day (celebrated on May 5th)
In Korea, they don’t have individual days to celebrate moms and dads. Instead, there is Parents’ Day! Just like back home, this day is a day where parents are honored for all the hard work that they do. Children give their parents flowers or gifts. Carnations are the most popular flower to give on Parents’ Day!
This is one of the more unique holidays in Korea. Pepero Day is celebrated on November 11th. Originally, individuals celebrated this holiday by giving out pepero candy sticks in hopes of growing taller and thinner (peperos are thin cookie sticks that are dipped in chocolate). Now, they are given out to friends and family members to show that you care about them. It’s common for boyfriends and girlfriends to exchange them, and for friends to give them to each other. On Pepero Day, I usually have a few students give me a box of peperos as well!
Chuseok is a traditional Korean holiday. This is a harvest festival that is celebrated in the fall. Chuseok is similar to the American thanksgiving in that individuals give thanks and spend time with their families. Traditional Korean foods are eaten, such as songpyeong, which are rice cakes. Many families will actually make songpyeong together during the holiday. Gifts are also exchanged with family and friends. During this time of year, you’ll likely see many displays of fresh fruit boxes, juices, and even spam — all common gifts!
I had to include one of the more unique holidays in Korea. On April 14th, Korean celebrate Black Day. This is a day for those who are single. Koreans are very much about relationships and if you’re single while living here, you’ll often be asked why and looked at as if there is something a bit wrong with you! For those who don’t celebrate White Day (March 14 — which is like Valentine’s Day here), this holiday was made. If you’re single and didn’t receive gifts on White Day, you’re to dress in black and eat jjajang myeon, which are noodles with a black bean sauce. Singles get together and go out to eat on this holiday. Now that’s taking anti-Valentine’s day to a new level!
These are some holidays in Korea! If you ever find yourself visiting or living here, chances are you’ll be celebrating one or more of the above holidays!
As this year is ending and a new one is about to begin, I wish you all a Happy New Year! Here’s to a year full of success and new adventures! I appreciate all of your support over the last year!