Friday, December 28, 2007
Korea and New Year's Day
Like most Asian countries, South Korea has two different New Years—one that follows the solar calendar and one that uses the lunar calendar. Traditionally the lunar New Year's, called So-nal, has greater cultural and familial significance (In 2008 it will be celebrated on February 7). Both are legal holidays.
As for the solar New Year’s celebration, in 1896, as part of reforms instituted to Westernize and modernize Korea, the Gregorian calendar was adopted, along with some of the West’s holidays such as the January 1st New Year’s celebration.
Today I find Korea’s celebration of New Years similar to celebration in America. For example. Koreans make New Year’s resolutions where they promise to exercise regularly or eat fewer sweet things—such as chocolates and candy.
A popular resolution every year is to study harder to improve English language skills—a skill seen as crucial in the workplace.
It’s appropriate to wish your Korean colleagues a seasonal greeting prior to the holiday, just as you will wish your non-Korean friends “Happy New Year’s.”
The New Year’s greeting is “Sae hae bok mani ba deu say yo.” It is a great phrase to learn because it will also be used again at the lunar New Years celebration in February.