Korean Holiday List

One way to incorporate your child’s birth culture into your family is to celebrate, or least acknowledge, the birth countries holidays. I found a list and brief description of Korean holidays on Wikipedia. This list tells you whether the flag would be raised on the holiday. If it would, one idea is to get a Korean flag and raise on these holidays. Below is the list of Korean holidays that we celebrate, including tips and a little info on how we celebrate them. I haven’t gone into a lot of detail on describing the holiday since that is done on the Wikipedia site. There are many books that relate to these holidays but that will have to be a different post.

설날 (Seollal)- Lunar New Year (date varies by lunar calendar)
One of the major holidays in Korean, Seollal celebrations include food, showing respect for the older generation, and games. The traditional food for this holiday is ddeok guk (떡국) (soup with rice cakes). Koreans believe you don’t become a year older until you eat ddeok guk. Here’s one recipe for ddeok guk. Omit the dumplings for a more traditional Seollal soup. Children perform sebae, which is a deep bow to their elders. Games such as Yut are played and kites are flown. One of my favorite books about Korean culture is Look What We’ve Brought You from Korea by Phyllis Shalant. This is a children’s book with how-to information about celebrating Korean holidays and culture. It includes instructions on how to perform sebae, how to make a kite for seollal, how to play Yut (including how to make your own game pieces), and how to play jaegi chagi, which is a hacky sack-type game. I found it at our local library but it make a great addition to your home library.

3.1절 (Samiljeol)- Independence Day, March 1
On this date in 1919, Koreans declared their independence from Japan. Since the fight for independence was a struggle to preserve the Korean way of life, coloring a flag or pages about traditional Korean life would be a good project for younger kids. With older kids, this would be a good day to discuss the occupation of Korean and what that would have meant for their birth families. During the occupation Koreans were forced to give up their Korean names, their language and their food, so other ways to commenorate this day might include cooking a Korean meal or learning a new phrase or Korean song.

어린이날 (Eorininal)- Children’s Day, May 5
This day celebrates children and is a national holiday in Korea. My husband takes off on May 5 each year and we do something as a family, just as families do in Korea. One year we went to the children’s museum and another we went to the zoo. We let our son decide what to do, within reason, and where we’ll eat on this day.

현충일 (Hyeonchung-il)- Memorial Day, June 6
This is a day for remembering those who have given their lives fighting for Korea. Again with older children it would be a good day to discuss Korea’s history. I have a great-uncle who died in the Korean War, so when my son is older we’ll talk about him and others who gave their lives.

제헌절 (Jeheonjeol)- Constitution Day, July 17
Celebrates the Republic of Korea’s constitution, which was  put into place on this date in 1948. Coloring pages or worksheets might help your child become more familiar with South Korea. Older kids could read the Korean constitution or learn more about how the Korean government works.

광복절 (Gwangbokjeol)- Liberation Day, August 15
This holiday celebrates both the surrender of Japan on this date in 1945, thus ending the occupation of Korea, and the establishment of the Republic of Korea government on this date in 1948. Since this day is technically the birth of the nation, you could find your child’s birth place on a map and learn about that city.

추석 (Chuseok)- Korean Thanksgiving (date varies by lunar calendar)
This site has some coloring pages and crafts you can do with your family as you celebrate Chuseok.

개천절 (Gaecheonjeol)- National Foundation Day, October 3
This holiday celebrates the founding of Korea, which according to legend occured in 2333 B.C. This site has information about the mythical founding of Korea. The stories look to be tranlated from the original Korean texts. A project you might want to do on this day is the South Gate art project on the Crayola Web site.

1 Response to “Korean Holiday List”

  1. 1 Barbara Baker
    October 6, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Looking for Korean holidays, thanks for the info, I just visited the wonderful city of Seoul on business and found it inticing. I am looking to keep in contact with those I met and to recognize their traditions… thank you for the info! Your site is very attractive, well put together and I am sure very useful to many!

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Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

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