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Korean New Year
Also called Lunar New Year
Observed by Korean people around the world
Type Korean, cultural, Buddhist
Significance The first day of the Korean calendar (lunar calendar)
2009 date January 26
2010 date February 14
2011 date February 3
Related to Mongolian New Year, Tibetan New Year, Japanese New Year, Chinese New Year, Vietnamese New Year

Korean New Year, commonly known as Seollal (Hangul: 설날; RR: Seollal; MR: Sǒllal), is the first day of the lunar Korean calendar. It is the most important of the traditional Korean holidays. It consists of a period of celebrations, starting on New Year's Day. The Korean also celebrate solar New Year's Day on January 1 each year, following the Gregorian Calendar. The Korean New Year holidays last three days, and is considered a more important holiday than the solar New Year's Day. [1]

The term "Seollal" generally refers to Eum-nyeok Seollal (음력설날, lunar new year), also known as Gujeong (Hangul: 구정; Hanja: 舊正). Less commonly, "Seollal" also refers to Yang-nyeok Seollal (양력설날, solar new year), also known as Sinjeong (Hangul: 신정).

Korean New Year generally falls on the day of the second new moon after winter solstice, unless there is a very rare intercalary eleventh or twelfth month in the lead-up to the New Year. In such a case, the New Year falls on the day of the third new moon after the solstice (next occurrence will be 2033). Korean New Year is generally the same day as Mongolian New Year, Tibetan New Year, Chinese New Year and Vietnamese New Year.



Korean New Year is typically a family-oriented holiday. The three-day holiday is used by many to return to their home towns to visit their parents and other relatives where they perform the ancestral ritual known as charye (차례). Many Koreans dress up in colorful hanbok. Tteokguk (떡국) (soup with rice cakes) is commonly served.

Many Koreans greet the New Year (both Western and lunar) by visiting East coast locations such as Gangneung and Donghae in Gangwon province, where they are most likely to see the first rays of the New Year's sun.[2]



Sebae is a traditionally observed activity on Seollal, and is filial-piety-orientated. Children wish their parents a happy new year by performing one deep traditional bow (rites with more than one bow involved are usually for the dead) and the words saehae bok manhi badeuseyo (Hangul: 새해 복 많이 받으세요) which translates to please receive many blessings in the new year. Parents typically reward this gesture by giving their children new year's money (usually in the form of crisp paper money) and offering words of wisdom, or deokdam. Historically, parents gave out rice cakes (ddeok) and fruit to their children instead.

Folk games

Many traditional games are associated with the Korean New Year. The traditional family board game Yutnori (윷놀이), similar to Parcheesi, is still a popular pastime. Traditionally men and boys would fly kites and play jegi chagi (제기차기), a game where a light object is wrapped in paper or cloth, and then kicked in a Hacky Sack manner. Korean women and girls would play neolttwigi (널뛰기), a game of jumping on a seesaw (시소), while children spun tops (팽이).


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