Happy Lunar New Year 음력 설날 (Seollal)!

29 Jan

Like most western cultures, Koreans celebrate the New Year according to the Gregorian calendar (Dec. 31 – Jan. 1).  But in Korea, the much much bigger celebration is the Lunar New Year called Seollal 음력 설날.

chinese-new-year-300x300The date of the Lunar New Year varies every year.  It falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice.  In 2014, the Lunar New Year falls on January 30th.  At least that is what the astronomers say.

Seollal is the most celebrated traditional Korean holiday. Like CHUSEOK, Seollal is a three-day holiday.  All of Korea takes to the road to travel to where the family is.  Because of traffic, it takes a whole day for everyone to get through the traffic jams.  They spend a day with the family.  Then on the third day of the holiday, they head back to their own homes so that they can start work the next day.  

There are lots of traditional things that happen on the Lunar New Year.  For example, the family plays games and the elders give the kids gifts of money.  Read more about the traditions of the Korean New Year Seollal HERE.

But one more thing.  Everyone in Korea gets a year older on the Lunar New Year.  In Korea, everyone is counted as being one-year-old on the day that they are born.  They then turn two-years-old on the first Lunar New Year after they are born.  For example, if you were born on the day before the Lunar New Year, you would be one for that day only and then you would turn two the next day.  But if you were born the day after the Lunar New Year, you would wait 364 days before you would turn two-years-old. The actual anniversary of your birth takes a back seat to this Korean traditional “birthday” celebration.

So get out your streamers and noise makers.  2014 will be the Year of the Horse.  Let’s get this party started.

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