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Traditional Culture

Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day)

Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day) is the first day of the Korean lunar calendar and the most celebrated traditional holiday in Korea.

New Year's rice cake soup

During this event, people perform ancestral rites, pay respects to their elders, and exchange well-wishing remarks. The ceremony serving as a memorial to ancestors is called Charye and is commonly practiced in a Sadang (traditional shrine) on Seollal. People also enjoy Tteokguk (a Korean traditional soup made with sliced rice cakes), folk games such as Yut Nori (a traditional board game), Neolttwigi (a traditional outdoor game), and perform Sebae (a traditional ceremony to bow to elders). Today, Saebae and well-wishing remarks are central features of Seollal.

Dano (Spring Festival)

Dano falls on the 5th day of the fifth month of the lunar Korean calendar and involves a ritual in which people wish for a good harvest after planting crops.

Dwarf wrestling

On Dano people eat Surichitteok, Ssuktteok,(both are herb rice cakes), and Angdu Hwachae (a cherry punch). Traditionally women washed their hair in changpo(iris) water and wore new clothes and changpo ornamental hairpins. This custom is called Danojang. On this day, people enjoy folk games such as swings, Ssireum (Korean wrestling), archery, and other physical activities.

Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day)

Chuseok falls on the 15th day of August according to the lunar calendar and is also known as Gabae, Gawee, Hangawi or Jungchujeol.

Chuseok Songpyeon

Chuseok bush fight

Families practice an ancestral memorial ceremony called Charye by filling a table with food such as newly harvested rice and Songpyeon (a traditional rice cake which is made with finely ground fresh rice). Seongmyo (visiting ancestral graves and making a formal bow of gratitude) and Beolcho (trimming the grass and pulling out the weeds that have grown on and around ancestral graves) are performed during this holiday period. Traditional folk games include Ganggangsulae (a traditional game in which women hold hands and dance in circles, singing “Ganggangsullae.”), Sonori (a series of ox-related activities), Bull-fighting, and Gama Ssaum (a palanquin game). With the rapid industrialization of Korea, traditional ceremonies have become less commonly performed, but many Koreans continue to visit their hometowns to celebrate the day with their families.

Hansik (Eating Cold Food Day)

Hansik falls on the 105th day after Dongzhi (April 5 by the Gregorian calendar).

Korean food service

It derives from an ancient Chinese practice in which people ate cold food while not using fire for a period of time. On this day, like other major holidays, people perform ancestral rituals and Seongmyo. Hansik often coincides with Arbor Day (April 5 by the Gregorian calendar). Since this time of year is the most suitable for planting trees, April 5 is now known as Arbor Day.