Archive for the 'Korean holiday how-tos' Category


White Day, Black Day, and Days of Love

So this proves that you can always learn something new. While I’d heard about White Day, and I vaguely remember reading something about Black Day, I had no idea that the 14th of every month has been designated as some kind of “love” day in Korea.

I first found the list on Wikipedia, but since readers can edit that site, I went looking for more official information. While I know that Wikipedia strives to be accurate, I thought this entry might be someone’s idea of a joke. But nope, it wasn’t. I found a complete list on Korea’s official tourist site.

Here the most popular love days:
Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14
White Day, March 14
Black Day, April 14
Pepero Day, Nov. 11  (The one exception to the 14th day rule, although November does have special day on the 14th, it’s movie day.)

In this entry I’ll only talk about White Day and Black Day. (Valentine’s Day was dealt with in a previous entry, and Pepero Day deserves an entry all its own later in the year.

With Valentine’s Day a month past, most American guys probably aren’t thinking much about gifts of love right about now. But guys in Korea are getting ready to show their gals how much they mean to them. (As you remember, Feb. 14 in Korea is a day for girls to shower their guys with presents, often in the form of chocolate.)

That’s because March 14 is fast approaching and now it’s the men’s turn. On White Day Korean men traditionally give non-chocolate candy, jewelry, and/or flowers to their sweethearts. A nice dinner out is often part of the celebration as well. And while it seems that non-chocolate candy is the tradition have I seen some mention of white chocolate being given in theme with the holiday’s name.

Although my son drew me a card on Valentine’s Day, upon hearing of White Day he wants to do something that day too. He’s in a giving phase right now, so even when there’s not a reason to give gifts, he gives you pretend presents consisting of some toy wrapped up in a bandana.

So what happens if you don’t have a sweetheart and are left out of the Valentine’s Day and White Day celebrations? Well, that’s what Black Day is for on April 14. The tradition of black day is to go a restaurant with your unattached friends and eat jjajang myun, or black noodles, and “mourn” the single life. Some even dress in all black.

I think it would be fun to celebrate some of the Black Day traditions, even though I’m obviously attached. I happen to like jjajang myun, although the rest of my family isn’t crazy about it. If you want to try this dish, you can find a recipe for it here.

Or if that doesn’t sound like something your family would enjoy, you can still recognize Black Day by having your kids work on this coloring sheet of kids eating jjajang myun on Black Day.


Festivities and Remembrance

Seollal (lunar new year) festivities are winding up this weekend. While the main holiday is celebrated for three days, lunar new year celebrations continue until Tae Bo Rum, the first full moon festival of the new year. Tae Bo Rum normally occurs two weeks after Seollal, and this year it falls on Feb. 28.

The traditional dish served for Tae Bo Rum is a five grain dish. You can find a recipe for it here.

Then Monday, March 1, is Independence Movement Day in Korea. It commemorates the demonstrations that took place on March 1, 1919, when Koreans protested the occupation of their country by the Japanese. More than 7,000 Koreans were killed that day.

Wikipedia has a good entry on this Korean day of remembrance, which can be found here.


Love and Lunar New Year (설날, Seollal)

설날, seollal (aka, Lunar New Year), is one of the most important holidays on the Korean calendar. Since the date is figured based on the lunar calender, it’s date on the Gregorian calendar changes every year. And all of that is to say that this year, 설날 falls on Feb. 14, yes on Valentine’s Day.

Last year I did a comprehensive post about 설날 and ways Korean adoptive families can celebrate. I’m not going to repeat all of that.

Just remember it’s not New Year without tteokguk (rice cake soup), your best or new clothes, and games such as yut nori. If your child likes to color, you can find a coloring sheet featuring a Korean family in their new clothes for Seollal here. (You can find last year’s detailed entry on Seolnal by either clicking on the Korean holiday how-tos category and scrolling down or looking at the January 2009 entries.)

2010 marks the year of the tiger so you could also have tiger-themed crafts or coloring sheets for Seollal. You can one tiger coloring sheet on the Crayola site. And here’s an interesting Korea Times article on Korea’s connection to tigers and the year of the tiger.

Since lunar new year shares it’s date this year with Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about Valetine’s in Korea. Although it’s still a day about love and chocolate, it’s celebrated a little differently in Korea.

You see many American guys would just as soon forget Valentine’s Day. Well, in Korea they can. In Korea on Feb. 14  girls give chocolates to guys they like, but the guys don’t have to give anything on that.

But don’t think that Korean guys are totally off the hook. One month later, on March 14, Koreans celebrate White Day. It’s a day for guys to give candys and gifts to the girls in their lives. Tradtionally the candy given on White Day isn’t chocolate, although I’ve read that some guys now give white chocolate.

Researching this post led me to find out about the “love days” in Korea. More on that in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, 새해 복 많이 받으세요! (saehae bok manni badeuseyo). That’s Happy New Year in Korean.


October 3, 2009–Two Korean Holidays in One

Since Chuseok is a Korean holiday that is determined by the lunar calendar, the date changes every year. This year it falls on Saturday, Oct. 3 (although in Korea the holiday runs Oct. 2-4 to allow for travel). Another Korean holiday falls every year on Oct. 3–National Foundation Day, which the foundation of Korea is celebrated.

Here you’ll find the post I did last year with some tips about how celebrate Chuseok. That post includes several links that can assist you in your celebration.

I also blogged about Foundation Day last year. Here’s a link to that post.

So this year, you can celebrate two Korean holidays at once. Sorry I didn’t come up with new ideas this year, but life just hasn’t allowed me to spend the time on this blog that I’d hoped to. Hopefully in the next year I’ll be able to add some fresh ideas for your Chuseok celebration.

In the meantime, it’s a great opportunity to try out some Korean dishes (san jok and ho bak jon are so easy), read some books, and open the discussion about Korea with your kids.


May 5–Children’s Day in Korea

I remember asking my parents around Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, “When’s children’s day?” They always answered, “Everyday is children’s day.”

Well, the lucky children of Korea have a Children’s Day. It’s May 5. The holiday for children was created in 1923 by author Pang Jeong Hwan as a way to honor children since he believed they were the future of the country.

And it’s an easy Korean holiday to celebrate no matter where you live. In Korea, families spend the day together and go to amusement parks, museums or zoos. Children are often given gifts and treated to their favorite foods.

Our family follows this tradition. Myhusband takes the day the off work and we spend it together. The first year we went to a children’s museum and last year the zoo. This year’s holiday will mark our third together as a family and our little guy may get to choose this year what he’d like to do.

One great resource is the book Korean Children’s Day by Ruth Suyenaga. This book is about a Korean adoptee who spends Children’s Day at his local Korean cultural center with his family and his best friend. It’s a great way to introduce parts of the Korean culture to kids from the perspective of a Korean adoptee. I believe the book is out of print, but it can be found on used book Web sites, like the one linked to above.

Children’s Day would also be a good day to play Korean games, like yut, and eat at a Korean restaurant. I found some great information about Children’s Day here.

While Children’s Day is a more recent holiday, May 5 has been a holiday in Korea for centuries. Before being designated as Children’s Day, May 5 was Tano, a celebration of the start of summer. Here is some basic information about the Tano holiday.

And for you parents, while moms and dads get separate days in America, they share a holiday in Korea. Parent’s Day is May 8. Parents usually receive a red carnation from their children and maybe a small gift, and the children sing them the Parent’s Day Song. This Web site gives some background on Parent’s Day and Korean folk tales that correspond with the holiday’s purpose of honoring parents.


설날 (Seollal)—Lunar New Year

One week from today Korea will celebrate Seollal, or Lunar New Year. It’s one of the biggest celebration days in Korea and one of the Korean holidays that our family celebrates. Here are a few ideas of things you can do with your family for Seollal.

Make Rice Cake Soup (떡국; dduk guk). It’s the most important food served for Seollal. You’ll find a recipe here. Eating this soup is considered good luck, and it’s said that you don’t turn a year older until you’ve eaten your dduk guk. (In Korea you turn a year older on Lunar New Year, not on your birthday.)

Learn to say Happy New Year in Korean. 새해 복 많이 받으세요, which is pronounced “saehae bok mani badeuseyo.” This means “I hope you have much good fortune in the New Year.”

Wear new clothes. Traditionally Koreans wear new hanboks on Seollal. These new clothes are called “seolbim.” There are a couple of good children’s books about there about the new clothes. The one for girls has been translated into English. I don’t believe the one for boys has yet been translated.

Perform sebae. This is a special bow done by the children in front of their elders. In return the children receive money. Here’s a how-to.

Fly kites or play yut nori. Both of these activities have traditionally been associated with Seollal. The kites are usually decorated and made by hand. If you can’t find a yut nori game set, you can make your own. Instructions for both can be found in the book Look What We’ve Brought You From Korea by Phyllis Shalant. Check your local library or the interlibrary loan option. And sometimes you can find used copies on Alibris or Amazon pretty cheap. I found ours on Alibris for only $8.

Hang a bok jori. These are bamboo strainers that are hung either next to the front door or next to the kitchen door for luck. It’s believed that the strainers let the bad luck go through keeping only the good luck for your family. Here’s an article about bok jori with a photo what they look like. So far the only one’s I’ve found are on eBay.

Read a couple of good books. The Next New Year is about a little boy who is Chinese-Korean American. The book tells about how this little boy celebrates the new year, as well as how many of his friends from various ethnic backgrounds celebrate. Another good one is Dumpling Soup. This one is about a little girl whose family is Korean-Chinese-Japanese-Hawaiian-Anglo and how they celebrate each year by making a special soup. It’s a soup similar to dduk guk, which some people do add dumplings (mandu) to.

The Korea web site has great information on the holiday. You’ll found it here. Click Asia also has a page with lots of information about the holiday. And here’s another article listing many of the Korean New Year’s customs.

I’m sure there are more ways to celebrate but these are a few to get you started. I’d love to hear any other ideas. Just leave them in the comments.


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.

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