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Koreans officially follow the Gregorian calendar, though
some holidays are based on the lunar calendar. During
the official holidays, offices and banks are closed but
palaces, museums, most restaurants, department stores,
and amusement facilities are open. Seollal and Chuseok
are most important traditional holidays for Koreans. Millions
of people visit their hometowns to celebrate with their
families during these periods. On Seollal, Koreans hold
a memorial service for their ancestors and perform sebae,
a formal bow of respect to their elders as a New Year’s
New Year’s Day (January 1)
The first day of the New Year is recognized and celebrated.
Seollal (January - February)
Lunar New Year’s Day (Seollal) is one of the most important
traditional events of the year, still much more significant
than January 1st. Most businesses are closed, and people
take several days off to visit their hometowns to be with
family. Members of the family get up early, put on their
best clothes, and everyone bows to their elders as a reaffirmation
of family ties. Feasts are held with specially prepared
food such as ttokguk and manduguk. People play traditionial
games or fly kites, and spin tops. February 8 - 10 in
Independence Movement Day (March 1)
This day commemorates the Declaration of Independence
proclaimed on March 1, 1919, while under Japanese colonization.
A reading of the declaration takes place in a special
ceremony at Tapgol Park in Seoul, where the document was
first read to the public.
Arbor Day (April 5)
Trees are planted across the country every year as part
of the nation’s vast reforestation program.
Buddha’s Birthday (April - May)
The 8th day of the 4th lunar month (May 15 in 2005). Elaborate,
solemn rituals are held at many Buddhist temples across
the country and lanterns are hung in the temple courtyards.
The Sunday before Buddha’s birthday these lanterns are
lit and carried in parades in the evening(May 15 in 2005).
Children’s Day (May 5)
On this day, parents dress up the little ones and take
them to children’s parks, amusement parks, zoos, or to
the cinema for a full day of fun and games.
Memorial Day (June 6)
Memorial Day is set aside to honor the soldiers and civilians
who have given their lives for their country. The largest
ceremony is held at the National Cemetery in Seoul.
Constitution Day (July 17)
Commemorates the proclamation of the Constitution of the
Republic of Korea that was made on July 17, 1948.
Liberation Day (August 15)
This day commemorates Japanese acceptance of the Allies’
terms of surrender and the resulting liberation of Korea
Chuseok (September - October)
Chuseok is one of the year’s most important traditional
holidays. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth
lunar month. Chuseok is often referred to as Korean Thanksgiving
Day. It’s a celebration of the harvest and a thanksgiving
for the bounty of the earth. Family members come from
all parts of the country to visit their ancestral homes.
September 17 - 19 in 2005
National Foundation Day (October 3)
This day commemorates the founding of the Korean nation
in 2333 B.C. by the legendary god-king Dangun. A simple
ceremony is held at an altar on top of Mt. Manisan, Ganghwado
province. The altar is said to have been erected by Dangun
to offer thanks to his father and grandfather in heaven.
Christmas (December 25)
Christmas is observed as a national holiday in Korea as
in many other countries.