How Koreans Celebrate the Festive Season
Notable events and places to visit from the year-end to the New Year
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From the year-end to the start of a new year is the winter holiday season. People summarize their year’s accomplishments and plan their New Year’s resolutions for another new start. From December to January, take a peek into the lives of Koreans through a chronological timeline.
When it comes to the middle of December, a lot of Koreans start to have year-end parties with their colleagues. Unlike countries in the west where time spent at the end of a year is more family-oriented, Koreans spend as much time with people from work. At the year-end parties, they tend to get more comfortable with one another and talk about things beside work more freely. They believe that the more they get closer with one another, the more efficient and effective their work will be. Koreans also enjoy the festive mood with friends and family, holding private parties and gatherings.
While the year-end parties continue until the end of the month, Christmas comes along, which is one of the biggest holidays in the world. While Christmas is originally a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is now settled as a universal festivity for everyone regardless of their religion both in the West and the East. While people living in the West generally gather with families on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, Koreans tend to spend it with their lovers. It is one of the biggest occasions of the year to exchange gifts and have a romantic date night.
One of the iconic and symbolistic events at the start of the New Year is the Bosingak bell-ringing ceremony, which is also known as Watch-Night bell. When the clock hits midnight, the bell is rung 33 times to welcome the New Year. There are 16 people who are given the opportunity to ring the bell- five of them being governmental representatives of Seoul and the Jongno district, and 11 citizens who were recommended by the public through the official Seoul Metropolitan Government website. Around the very final days of the year, a lot of Koreans take a short trip with families, friends, and lovers. Koreans think that watching the sunrise of the very first day of the year is a memorable event that lasts throughout the whole year. They make their wishes whilst watching the sunrise and reaffirm their new year’s resolutions.
For people who want to see the sunrise in Seoul, Nam-san Palgakjeong is recommendable. Being a popular spot for both Koreans and foreigners, there are shows and ceremonies prepared as well. In Gangwon province, Jeongdong-jin is the most representative attraction to watch the sunrise. The fact that more than 580 thousand people visit Gangwon province at this time proves the popularity of the region. In Gyungsangbuk province's Ulsan Homigot, there is a famous landmark statue which makes the scenery more beautiful.
Celebration of the New Year ends in January or February, whenever the Lunar New Year is. Seollal is one of the most highly celebrated holiday in Korea. In the morning of Seollal, the tradition for all family members is dressing up in hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) for the special occasion and gather in front of the ritual lacquer table for charye. Charye refers to a ritual done for the ancestors to give thanks on special holidays, which is a commitment for all generations. While there are abundant amounts of food prepared for the ceremony and for the whole family, the main dish which cannot be dismissed is tteokguk, which is a soup made with plain rice cake. The widespread concept is that when you eat a bowl of tteokguk, you are one year older.
Yun Ji-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
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