Public Holidays

Public holidays in South Korea

Despite the historical relations with China, the Gregorian calendar prevails in South Korea. However, the Chinese lunar calendar has not completely lost its influence. The most important events in the Korean year are Seollal and Chuseok and are always calculated according to the lunar calendar, although Seollal has a different cultural background than in China.

With about one third, the Christians in the country also have a considerable share, which is why Christmas is also one of the public holidays. Buddhists also make up about a quarter of the country's population. Thus, Buddha's birthday was also included as a public holiday.

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Non-movable holidays

Non-statutory holidays are written in gray.

Jan. 1stNew Year’s Day
March 1stIndependence Movement Day
April 5thArbor Day
May 1stLabour Day
May 5thChildren's day
May 8thParents' Day
May 15thTeacher's Day
June 6thMemorial Day
July 17thConstitution Day
Aug. 15thLiberation Day
Oct. 1stArmed Forces Day
Oct. 3rdNational Foundation Day
Oct. 9thHangeul Day
Dec. 25thChristmas Day

Moving Holidays in South Korea

Seollal (Last day of old year)Jan. 31stJan. 21stFeb. 9thJan. 28thFeb. 16th
Seollal (New Year's Day)Feb. 1stJan. 22ndFeb. 10thJan. 29thFeb. 17th
Seollal (Second day of New Year)Feb. 2ndJan. 23rdFeb. 11thJan. 30thFeb. 18th
Buddha's BirthdayMay 8thMay 26thMay 15thMay 5thMay 24th
Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)Sept. 10thSept. 29thSept. 17thOct. 6thSept. 25th

Seollal - the Chinese New Year

Public Holidays Seollal is the 3-day New Year festival based on the lunar calendar. Nationwide it is much more important than the turn of the year based on the Gregorian calendar. Seollal is a predominantly traditional festival, which is celebrated in the circle of the family. On all 3 days you wear the fine wardrobe, honour your parents and grandparents and spend time with your children. A traditional meal on the first day of New Year is often "Tteokguk", a soup with rice cake.

Chuseok - the harvest festival

Chuseok is also calculated according to the lunar calendar and takes place on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Usually in September or October. Since the 15th day of a lunar month is always a full moon day, the day is sometimes also called Hangawi, and thus moon festival. The actual translation of the word Chuseok is "autumn evening", Hangawi means "great middle".

On these 3 days lasting celebrations mainly the older family members and also already deceased ancestors are celebrated and honoured. Usually this is done in the house of the head of the family, usually the grandparents. It is accompanied by traffic jams throughout the country when whole families travel to the provinces.

Family Days

The traditionally large role of the family is quickly noticed by a European or American. The family has an enormous significance in South Korea. Chuseok and Seollal are much more family oriented than comparable holidays in the western world. In addition, the children's day on 5 May and the parents' day on 8 May are two more family-oriented holidays in the calendar. Parents' Day is not a work-free day. Unlike in many other countries fathers and mothers are celebrated together. There are no individual father or mother days.
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