I’ve been in Korea just about a year now, so of course I’ve seen all the Korean holidays. What I haven’t done, however, is celebrate them in the Korean style, though I asked what they were like.
The most important Korean traditional holidays are Seollal (설날) and Chuseok (추석). Seollal is the Korean New Year. Chuseok is a harvest celebration pretty similar to American or Canadian Thanksgiving.
Seollal is a family holiday. You would usually go visit your family, and/or go with your family to the East Coast where you can see the first sun of the new year. You usually eat ddeokguk (rice cake soup). According to the Korean age-reckoning system (in which I am 25, not 24), you grow a year older on Korean New Year’s Day. Eating the ddeokguk advances you a year.
I was on Jeju Island for Seollal this year. I happened to order some ddeokguk, and then someone told me the significance. So I at least did one tradition.
Chuseok is also a family holiday. You typically go back to your hometown to pay respect to your ancestors (note: around 75% of Koreans live in the Seoul area now so this translates to a ton of traffic going out of Seoul). You eat songpyeon (a type of rice cake) and japchae (a noodle dish).
My Chuseok consisted of lying around on a beach with about 50 other foreigners – I was on Deokjeok Island.
As you can see, I didn’t celebrate the major Korean holidays very traditionally, mostly due to a lack of people inviting me to their house for them.
However, I still learned about these interesting holidays and it was cool to talk about them with my Korean friends, and learn a new way of celebrating.
Have you celebrated another country’s holidays?