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Seollal – January 22, 2023

Seollal celebrations commemorate the first day of the Chinese lunisolar calendar and start from January 22 this year. It is a festival that marks the Korean New Year, and since the day has cultural and traditional value, it goes on for three days! Yes, this is the perfect time to eat traditional food, bond with family, have a few laughs, and paint the town red with amazing celebrations. During Seollal, families visit each other, play folk games, and often hand out money to the kids. Filled with unique traditions and customs, this is a national holiday that one must experience no matter what nation they belong to. It’s time to wear your hanboks and welcome the new year with a bang!

History of Seollal

The origins of Seollal celebrations date back to 57 B.C. and have been mentioned in the “Book of Sui” and the “Book of Tang.” The renowned kingdom of the Joseon dynasty celebrated the day by government officials gathering in the five grand palaces of the time. Research also indicates that Seollal first became a Korean holiday during the reign of the Goryeo dynasty, which lasted from 918 A.D. to 1392 A.D.

The tradition, of course, has carried on from there and is celebrated today with grandeur highlights to mark the first day of the Lunar Korean Calendar. Since the holiday is important to Koreans, it is also common for businesses to shut down and families to make long journeys to unite for the occasion. Hence, travel arrangements for the event are made way beforehand. People may often find flights and hotels completely booked during this period. And yes, Koreans from different parts of the world also make a great effort to hop on a plane and meet their family as the festival is considered the perfect time to catch up with family members of all ages and generations. Can you believe in 2016, 36 million South Koreans reportedly traveled to visit their families during the Korean New Year? During the festival, gifts are given to family members, traditional Korean food is prepared and new clothes are worn to welcome the year.

Seollal timeline

7th Century B.C.
Historic Festivities

The celebrations are recorded in the “Old Book of Tang.”

13th Century A.D.
Digging Up The Past

The New Year becomes one of the nine major Korean festivals that include ancestral rites.

1895—1945
Boycott

The Japanese ban the Lunar New Year under their rule.

1985
A Day Off

The festival is officially recognized as a holiday in South Korea.

Seollal FAQs

How many days is Seollal celebrated?

Seollal is only a day long but tends to be celebrated for more than one day.

What do people wear on Seollal?

Koreans wear bright and colorful traditional wear such as the hanbok.

What do Koreans do during Seollal?

Seollal is a time for Koreans to catch up with family members.

Seollal Activities

  1. Eat some traditional Korean food

    On this day, eat as much traditional food as you want. This is especially important for those who no longer live in Korea and are visiting home for the festival.

  2. Listen to folk tales

    This is the best day to hang out with elders and listen to the interesting folk tales that can be passed on to future generations. It’s a way to learn about traditions and also serves as a glimpse back into the past.

  3. Spend time with family

    No matter how busy you are daily, the day will give you a chance to finally hang out with your family. Take the day to cherish your loved ones and make them feel wanted.

5 Fun Facts About Seollal

  1. The meaning of Seollal

    It means ”Lunar New Year.”

  2. The tradition of Charye

    Food is prepared by female relatives and served to ancestors by male relatives.

  3. Traditional dishes

    ‘Ddeokguk’ is a rice cake soup served on this occasion.

  4. Other traditions

    The morning of Seollal begins with family members gathering in their traditional outfits.  

  5. The post-holiday trauma

    Large quantities of food are prepared for Seollal, causing people to tire out.

Why We Love Seollal

  1. It kickstarts the new year

    The occasion is important because it kickstarts the new year for Koreans. It also provides them with a chance for a new beginning.

  2. It brings families closer

    The day brings families closer since the main traditions and festivities revolve around spending time with the elders of the family. Work ceases and time is made to cherish loved ones.

  3. It’s a part of the culture

    The Korean festival is an essential part of the culture. It aids Korea in standing out from the rest of the world.

Seollal dates

YearDateDay
2022January 31Monday
2023January 22Sunday
2024February 10Saturday
2025January 29Wednesday
2026January 17Saturday

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