When you’re studying Korean, it’s fun to learn about various Korean holidays. Mark your calendar, here are the major (and minor) Korean holidays.
Along with the national holidays, in South Korea, the 14th of each month is a fun, unofficial holiday. Read on for a list of all the holidays and celebrations!
At the beginning of the new year, it’s customary for friends and loved ones to trade diaries, journals, and planners. Friends and family members write down important dates, occasions, birthdays, and anniversaries.
Seollal – Korean New Year
February (January 1st on the Lunar Calendar)
The Korean New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, coincides with the Chinese New Year, and is considered more important than the New Year’s Day on the Gregorian calendar.
Koreans spend these three days with food, gatherings, festivities, parades, and fireworks. Most people take this time off and travel back home to be with loved ones.
On Valentine’s Day in South Korea, women give men chocolate as a sign of affection. Generally, men will reciprocate this gift and give women chocolate on White Day (March 14th).
Commercial holidays or not, Valentine’s Day and White Day are (literally) very sweet holidays in South Korea.
Samiljeol – Independence Movement Day
On this day in 1919, Korean nationalists and students resisted and protested Japan’s occupation of Korea.
This prompted a nationwide civil protest and is considered the beginning of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.
Another 14th holiday, on Black Day singles “celebrate” their lack of a serious relationship.
Single friends come together to eat jajangmyeon (black noodles), and wish each other luck in finding that special someone in the coming year.
Eorininal – Children’s Day
On this special day, Koreans celebrate their children with parades, pageants, martial arts demonstrations, and other special events.
Yellow Day / Rose Day
Another opportunity to celebrate love, on Yellow Day, couples wear yellow and exchange bouquets of roses.
Hyeonchung-il – Memorial Day
Koreans honor the men and women who died either serving in the military, or during the independence movement. A commemoration ceremony is held at the Seoul National Cemetery.
This one is pretty self explanatory, but Kiss Day is also a good time to confess your feelings for a crush.
If you haven’t noticed by now, most of the 14th holidays are love and couples celebrations.
Couples who plan to marry exchange silver rings (similar to promise rings). Many couples also choose to introduce their significant other to their parents on Silver Day.
Jeheonjeol – Constitution Day
On this day in 1948, the Korean constitution was progmulated. The anniversary is celebrated each year with citizens flying their nation’s flag, a ceremony with the president and other political figures in attendance, as well as other activities, such as marathons and parades.
This day is all about drinking soju (which comes in a green bottle), and taking a romantic stroll in the woods with your significant other.
Gwangbokjeol – Liberation Day
Gwangbok means “restoration of light,” which is fitting for this anniversary of the liberation of Korea from the Empire of Japan in 1945.
Photo / Music Day
Another one that’s self explanatory, this unofficial holiday is mainly for couples to take photos and enjoy music together.
Chuseok – Korean Thanksgiving Day
September 17th – 19th
During this three-day celebration, families gather together to share food and to give thanks for both their ancestors and an abundant harvest.
Hangul Day celebrates the invention (which happened in the year 1443) and proclamation (1446) of the native alphabet of Korean language.
The inventor of the hangul alphabet, King Sejong the Great, is considered one of the most honored rulers in Korean history.
Spread some love and share some wine!
This isn’t just a normal movie night. In South Korea, you can rent a movie room and watch a romantic comedy with your significant other or a small group of people.
Reach out and hug someone!
Although only about 30 percent of Koreans identify as Christian, Christmas Day is still celebrated nationwide as the country embraces the Western traditions of card exchanges, decorations, and gift giving.
With the unofficial 14th holidays each month, there’s always something to celebrate. So whether you’re taking Korean lessons or you’re just interested in learning about Korean culture, keep this calendar handy and let the celebrations begin!
Photo by Republic of Korea