Holidays and Festivals in South Korea

Holidays and festivals in South Korea are vibrant and meaningful, reflecting the country's rich history, culture, and traditions. From traditional lunar celebrations to modern national holidays, each festival in South Korea has its unique charm and significance. These occasions are a blend of joyous celebration, solemn remembrance, and cultural pride, offering a glimpse into the heart and soul of Korean society. In this article, we explore eleven of the most celebrated holidays and festivals in South Korea, delving into their customs, stories, and the important roles they play in Korean life.

New Year's Day

New Year's Day in South Korea, celebrated on January 1st, is a time for joy and family reunions. It marks the beginning of the year and is often celebrated with traditional food, including 'tteokguk', a rice cake soup believed to bring good luck. Families gather, exchange gifts, and share wishes for the new year, reflecting a spirit of hope and renewal.

Seollal, Korean Lunar New Year

Seollal, the Korean Lunar New Year, is one of the most important traditional holidays in South Korea. It usually falls in late January or early February and is celebrated over several days. Seollal involves ancestral rites, wearing traditional 'hanbok', and enjoying special dishes like 'tteokguk'. It's a time for honoring ancestors and reuniting with family, deeply rooted in Korean culture and heritage.

Independence Movement Day

Independence Movement Day, observed on March 1st, commemorates the 1919 independence movement against Japanese colonial rule. This day is marked by ceremonies and reenactments, honoring the memory and bravery of those who fought for Korea’s independence. It's a day of national pride and historical reflection.

Children's Day

Children's Day, celebrated on May 5th, is a day dedicated to the children of South Korea. It's a joyful occasion, filled with family outings, events, and activities for children. The day underscores the importance of children in society and is a time for celebrating their happiness and rights.

Buddha's Birthday

Buddha's Birthday, known as 'Bucheonim Osinnal', is a colorful and spiritual festival, celebrated in April or May. Temples are adorned with lanterns, and the streets are filled with parades and cultural performances. This day is an important occasion for the Buddhist community in South Korea, celebrating peace, compassion, and enlightenment.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, observed on June 6th, is a day of remembrance for those who lost their lives in military service. Ceremonies and events are held nationwide, particularly at the National Cemetery in Seoul, paying respects to fallen soldiers and reflecting on the themes of sacrifice and peace.

Liberation Day

Liberation Day, celebrated on August 15th, marks Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. It is a day of national joy and pride, celebrated with various events, including flag-hoisting ceremonies, performances, and exhibitions highlighting Korea's history and culture.

Chuseok

Chuseok, often referred to as Korean Thanksgiving, is celebrated in September or October. It is one of the biggest and most cherished holidays, focused on family and honoring ancestors. Traditional foods like 'songpyeon' (rice cakes) are prepared, and many Koreans travel to their hometowns for family reunions and ancestral rites.

National Foundation Day

National Foundation Day, observed on October 3rd, celebrates the legendary formation of the first Korean state of Gojoseon. This day is filled with historical reenactments, festivities, and national pride, commemorating Korea's rich history and cultural roots.

Hangul Day

Hangul Day, celebrated on October 9th, honors the creation of the Korean alphabet, Hangul, by King Sejong in the 15th century. It's a celebration of Korean language and cultural identity, marked by exhibitions, educational events, and cultural activities promoting the Korean language.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day in South Korea, while a Christian holiday, is widely celebrated by many as a festive season. Streets and stores are adorned with decorations and lights, and various events and church services are held. It’s a time of joy, gift-giving, and celebration, embracing the spirit of love and community.

These holidays and festivals in South Korea offer a vivid reflection of the country’s cultural diversity, historical depth, and the values that shape its society. From traditional observances to modern celebrations, each holiday adds to the rich tapestry of Korean life, bringing together communities and strengthening the bonds of family and national identity.

Upcoming Holidays (next six months)

HolidayDateDayType
Liberation Day August 15 Thursday Public Holiday
Chuseok Holiday September 16 Monday Public Holiday
Chuseok September 17 Tuesday Public Holiday
Chuseok Holiday September 18 Wednesday Public Holiday
National Foundation Day October 03 Thursday Public Holiday
Hangul Day October 09 Wednesday Public Holiday
Christmas December 25 Wednesday Public Holiday
New Year's Day January 01 Wednesday Public Holiday

Holidays by Year

Previous Year: 2023
This page was last edited on 31 January 2024 at 06:47 PM (EST).