My friend and co-worker Minji Kye  is a 21-year old exchange student from Korea studying design at the U of M.  She has been in the United States for several years already. According to the Open Doors website, there are many more international Korean students that travel to the United States rather than American students traveling to Korea. The other day, Minji mentioned the Easter celebration she had with her host family.  It made me wonder what kinds of holidays she normally celebrates in Korea.  She gave me a list of some important Korean holidays, which I then proceeded to read up on.

Chuseok is the most important holiday in Korea. It falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, and lasts 3 days. Koreans consider it their duty to visit their family’s ancestral graves, and to participate in Bulcho, the cutting of the weeds around the graves. In the morning, they perform Chare, memorial rites, where they pay respect to their ancestors. Women participate in a circle dance, called Ganggangsulle. There is also a game played during this time called Gama, where two teams have four-wheeled sedan chairs, and they try to take or destroy the other team’s chairs.

Seol-nal is the celebration of the Lunar New Year. It is more popularly known as Chinese New Year. During this time, Koreans travel to their hometowns to reconnect with their ancestral roots.  It’s celebrated in many parts of Asia, and is the second most important holiday in Korea.

Samil-jeol is celebrated on March 1st. It’s the Independence (or movement) day to remember the anti-Japanese demonstrations against the Japanese occupation of Korea on March 1st in 1919. As part of a special ceremony, the declaration is read in Tapgol Park in Seoul.  As a related holiday, Kwangbok Jeol is Liberation Day. It commemorates the Japanese accepting the Allies’ surrender on August 15, 1945, thereby liberating Korea from Japanese occupation.

Advertisements