Korean holiday

How Koreans Celebrate Lunar New Year


Ideas and Tips on Gift-Giving in Korea

If you’re new to South Korea, you’ll notice the hundreds of specialty shops that dot the city streets that offer more goods and gifts you could ever hope to buy for yourself. A great way to take advantage of these amazing shops and indulge in their wares is to immerse yourself in the rich tradition of gift-giving.

Many Asian cultures value modesty and graciousness as staples of their culture, and South Korea is no different. This translates into the gift-giving culture as a wonderful way to express gratitude towards others who have shown their kindness. If you are new to the culture, here are a few tips to help your gift-giving in South Korea go smoothly.

How To Celebrate Valentine's Day Like a Korean

No one does lovey-dovey coupley stuff better than the Koreans.  This is evidenced by their tendency to snuggle in public, book lovers' seats in movie theaters, and celebrate a number of made-up holidays dedicated to coupledom.  While each holiday has its own concept and is celebrated on the 14th of each month, there's no doubt that the biggest of these is Valentine's Day.

Although the Western-inspired celebration of romance didn't become popular in Korea until the mid-1900s, it has since become one of the most anticipated holidays in the country, at least for those with a significant other.  Valentine's Day, unlike in the West, is a day reserved for women to celebrate the special men in their lives while the men reciprocate in March.  Despite this, it's not unusual for Korean men to do something nice for their girlfriends on V-Day.

So, how exactly do Koreans celebrate Valentine's Day, you ask?  And, how can you celebrate Valentine's Day like a Korean?  Check out Seoul Searching's suggestions to Koreanize your special day of romance this year.

Make Personalized Chocolates

Valentine's Day is synonymous with chocolate, and this is just as true in Korea as it in the West.  Giving chocolate to your sweety is pretty much obligatory and because of this, it's hard to walk down the street without running into sales displays of all sorts of chocolates and chocolate-inspired desserts.  Even convenience stores pre-package Valentine's Day goodies for those on the go.  But, to most, this is a cop out.

Dinner with our landlord's family!

I've had some really hospitable Korean experiences while living here, but today may have completely taken the cake!  See, I live in a small apartment complex (14 rooms), owned and managed by a family on the island.  Yesterday afternoon, I noticed this handwritten card sticking out of my mailbox, from them, written by their daughter!  How awesome is that?!  I grabbed my iphone and immediately texted her that we would LOVE to come and have dinner with them.  Mind you, we had met our landlord ONCE in 2 years, when she came to help us fix our hot water last week, and she doesn't speak English!  But that doesn't matter in Korea!  Koreans are hospitable!  Turns out, she knew we wouldn't be with our families for today's holiday, and she felt bad and didn't want us to be all alone.  Ahhhh. So, we took a taxi over to their apartment complex...

Chuseok Traditions, Hagwon Style

Recently, I wrote a post about all of the wonderful reasons to love autumn in Korea.  Not listed in the post but very much included in my reasons for loving the season is that of ChuseokChuseok is a Korean holiday that celebrates the autumn harvest and is held around the autumn equinox based on the lunar calendar.  It is usually three days long and is one of the few times of the year that Koreans take time off of work and visit their hometowns to share an autumn feast with their families in celebration of the harvest.  Chuseok is also a time to remember ancestors through various ceremonies. 

Chuseok Love…

with the kiddies.

For my readers at home: Chuseok is a three-day Korean holiday that traditionally celebrates the autumn harvest. For us waygooks, it means a four-day weekend. (Asa!) For Koreans, it means returning to their hometowns, paying respect to their ancestors, and sharing a feast.  Many also wear traditional clothes called hanbok.

So at school on Friday, we held a Hanbok Fashion Show so the kids could show off their gear…

It was a pretty big deal.

Monica, Louis, and Jeff--I start each morning with them, grateful that coffee was invented.

* Celebrating Chuseok! *

With fall comes Chuseok 추석, the Korean harvest festival! Also known as Hangawi 한가위, it is one of the most important holidays in Korea. Following the lunar calendar it falls on the 15th day of the 8th month, close to the Autumn Equinox, and is celebrated over 3 days. This year Chuseok goes from September 11-13, giving a long week-end to families to get together.

Chuseok, Seoul, Korean holiday, Korean culture, Korean rites,

Celebrating Chuseok (The Chosunilbo)

Chobok Day!

I was informed this morning that today is the beginning of Boknal (복날) in Korea.  Boknal is a month-long weather pattern that brings the hottest part of the year to Korea. Prior to this, Korea’s summer was muggy and rainy. This rainy season is called jangma (장마) aka monsoon aka wearing rain boots for a large part of July. 

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