Seollal : Differences between the two Koreas

Seollal (the Korean Lunar New Year), which is an important festival among the Koreans, has just passed.  While the people living in North Korea and South Korea share the same ethnic origin and may have similar customs, there may be some cultural differences between people living in the two Koreas mainly due to the differences in their political systems.  Let’s discuss some key differences in the Seollal-related customs between the two Koreas in this blog post. If you want to know more about the Korean customs for Seollal in South Korea, you may refer to my blog posts dated 18 February 2015 and 23 February 2015, respectively. Continue reading

Here comes Dongji (Winter Solstice) in South Korea…

Meaning of Dongji to Koreans

Today (22 December 2015) is Dongji (동지 – Winter Solstice) – this is the day with the longest night-time (or the shortest day-time) within the year.  It usually falls on 22 or 23 December of the Gregorian (or the Western) calendar.  After Dongji, the day-time gradually becomes longer signalling the coming of the spring.  So, in the past, people considered Dongji as the “little lunar new year”, and considered themselves one year older after Dongji (vs. nowadays people consider themselves one year older on New Year’s day). Continue reading

May is a “family month” in South Korea…

5 May is a public holiday in South Korea.  Do you know why?  Because 5 May is the Children’s Day in South Korea.  Most countries over the world have designated a day as the Children’s Day but not so many designate it as a public holiday.  Actually, May is considered as a “family month” in South Korea because apart from the Children’s Day (5 May), there are also the Parents’ Day (8 May) and the Teachers’ Day (15 May).  However, unlike the Children’s Day, the Parents’ Day and the Teachers’ Day are not public holidays in South Korea.  In this blog post, let’s talk about these three special days in South Korea. Continue reading

More interesting tips about Seol (Lunar New Year) in South Korea

Happy Lunar New Year! 새해 복 많이 받으세요. 🙂

Thanks for the overwhelming views of my blog post dated 18 February 2015 on how the Koreans celebrate Seollal (설날 – Lunar New Year’s Day, i.e., the 1st day of the 1st month of the lunar calendar).  That blog post talks about the traditional ways in which the Koreans celebrate the Seollal.  In this blog post, I will give more interesting tips about Seol (설 – Lunar New Year) and some modern ways of celebrating the Seol which can still be used even after Seollal. Continue reading

How do the Koreans celebrate Seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day)?

25 January 2020 is Seollal (설날 – the Lunar New Year’s Day), which is one of the important festivals in South Korea.  Seollal falls on the 1st day of the 1st month of the lunar calendar and family members and relatives get together to celebrate.  So, how do the Koreans celebrate Seollal?  There are many interesting rituals and I will talk about some of them and the reasons behind in this blog post.  I will also introduce the cultural activities to be held in South Korea (mainly Seoul) for both locals and foreigners during the Seollal holiday period. Continue reading

Korean gift-giving customs – Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)

Like the American Thanksgiving, Chuseok (추석 – Korean Thanksgiving) is considered as an important festival by the Koreans and family members gather together to celebrate this festival.  Chuseok falls on August 15 of the lunar calendar and its purpose is to celebrate the harvest.  In South Korea, there is a 3-day national holiday for Chuseok and many people go back to their hometown to celebrate it with their family members.  People also buy gifts for their family members and close friends. Continue reading

Something to celebrate on the 14th of every month in South Korea…

In South Korea, the 14th of every month is a special day which lovers and/or friends can celebrate together. Below is a list of these special days and the relevant rituals: Continue reading

Korean gift-giving customs – Cash as gift

In other countries, cash may be regarded as an impersonal gift and the giver may be considered as lacking sincerity in giving gifts.  However, as you may already notice, Koreans in fact prefer gifts which are practical and so cash is an acceptable gift for a lot of occasions. Continue reading

Korean gift-giving customs – Baby’s first birthday gifts

To the Koreans, a baby’s first birthday is an important event to celebrate and the parents hold a first birthday’s celebration party (돌잔치 – Doljanchi) inviting family members and friends to attend.  The reason for Doljanchi is that in the past when the people were poor and the medical technology was not so advanced, the infant mortality rate was high.  Therefore, having a baby surviving his/her first birthday became an event worth celebrating.   Even nowadays when the infant mortality rate has dropped significantly, this Doljanchi tradition still continues.

What do Koreans bring as gifts to Doljanchi? Continue reading