Seollal / Korean New Year

Seollal or Seol-nal is one of the most important holidays in South Korea. It celebrates the first day of the first month in lunar calendar; thus, the holiday is also known as Korean New Year. South Korean people also celebrate solar New Year’s Day on the 1st January in Gregorian calendar, yet Seollal is considered a more important holiday. This traditional Korean holiday lasts for 3 days every year.

Date of Seollal

Seollal is celebrated on the first day of the first month in lunar calendar. Due to different calculations between lunar and solar calendar, the date of Seollal varies from year to year in Gregorian calendar.

Normally, Seollal is celebrated on the same date with Chinese New Year. In fact, sometimes even people in Korea call Seollal as Chinese New Year, to the disdain of some others.

Yet, in a very rare moment which occurs only once in 24 years, Seollal is celebrated on the day after Chinese New Year. This rare moment happens when the crescent moon that determines the first day of the first lunar month appears at around 3pm or 4pm UTC. The last occurrence was in 2009, and the next occurrence will be in 2033.

When is Seollal 2014?
Date of Seollal 2014 is Friday, 31 January 2014 (the same day as Chinese New Year 2014).
The celebration and holiday date of Seollal 2014 will be started from Thursday, 30 January 2014 until Sunday, 1 February 2014.

2014 Seollal Celebration

South Korean people have many traditions and ceremonies in celebrating Korean New Year. Usually, they visit their hometown to gather with parents, relatives, and friends. During Seollal, many Korean people wear a traditional Korean clothing, hanbok, while some others prefer to wear the other formal clothing.

A tradition called sebae is usually performed during the celebration of Seollal and can be expected for Seollal 2013 as well. In this tradition, children pay respect to their parents by bowing deeply and greet them with blessing words such as saehae bok mani badeuseyo meaning “Have a blessed New Year”. In return, parents will give the children pocket money inside luck bags decorated with pretty silk design which displays wise words.

The other traditions done during Seollal are eating Korean traditional food and playing folk games. The typical food of Korean New Year is tteokguk or soup with some rice cakes slices. People in South Korea believe that when someone eat tteokguk, he/she will be one year older.

Many folk games are being played by either children or adults in Korea during Seollal. Some of the games are known as neolttwigi (a jumping seesaw game), jegi chagi (a football-like game), and gongginolie (a traditional game using five little stone known as gonggi). In the midst of sophisticated gadgets, South Korean people do not neglect their traditional games.

Happy Seollal 2014 !
Happy Korean New Year 2014 !