The traditional Korean calendar was based on the lunisolar calendar, like the Chinese and other East Asian calendars. Dates are calculated from Korea's meridian, and observances and festivals are rooted in Korean culture.
The biggest festival in Korea today is Seollnal (the traditional Korean New Year). Other important festivals include Daeboreum (the first full moon), Dano (spring festival) and Chuseok (harvest festival).
- The Chinese zodiac of 12 Earthly Branches (animals), which were used for counting hours and years;
- Ten Heavenly Stems, which were combined with the 12 Earthly Branches to form a sixty-year cycle;
- Twenty-four solar terms (jeolgi 節氣 절기) in the year, spaced roughly 15 days apart;
- Lunar months including leap months added every two or three years.
The traditional calendar designated its years via Korean era names from 536 to 963. Then Chinese era names were used until 1895 when the official use of the lunar calendar ceased.
As a result of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894–95, China's control ceased and the Gregorian calendar was adopted by the new Korean Empire on 1 January 1895, but with years numbered from the foundation of the Joseon Dynasty in 1393. From 1897, Korean era names were used for its years until Japan annexed Korea in 1910. Then Japanese era names were used to count the years of the Gregorian calendar used in Korea until Japanese occupation ended in 1945.
From 1952 until 1961 in South Korea, Gregorian calendar years were counted from the foundation of Gojoseon in 2333 BCE (regarded as year one), the date of the legendary founding of Korea by Dangun, hence these Dangi (단기) years were 4285 to 4294. This numbering may have been informally used for the years of the Korean lunar calendar before 1952 and since 1961.
The lunar calendar is used for the observation of traditional festivals, such as Korean New Year, Chuseok, and Buddha's Birthday. It is also used for jesa memorial services for ancestors and the marking of birthdays by older Koreans.
|Seollal||Lunar New Year's Day||An ancestral service is offered before the grave of the ancestors, New Year's greetings are exchanged with family, relatives and neighbours; bows to elders (sebae), yutnori. See also Chinese New Year and East Asian age reckoning||Day 1 of Month 1||sliced rice cake in soup (tteokguk), honey cakes (yakwa).|
|Daeboreum||First full moon||Greeting of the moon (dalmaji), kite-flying, talisman burning to ward evil spirits (aengmagi taeugi), bonfires (daljip taegi)||Day 15 of Month 1||rice boiled with five grains (ogokbap), nut eating (bureom), wine drinking (gwibalgisul)|
|Meoseumnal||Festival for servants||Housecleaning, coming of age ceremony, fishermen's shaman rite (yeongdeunggut)||Day 1 of Month 2||stuffed pine-flavoured rice cakes (songpyeon)|
|Samjinnal||Migrant swallows return||Leg fighting, fortune telling||Day 3 of Month 3||Azalea wine (dugyonju), pancake (dungyeon hwajeon)|
|Hansik||Beginning of farming season||Visit to ancestral grave for offering rite, and cleaning and maintenance. See also Ching Ming Festival||Day 105 after winter solstice||cold food only: mugwort cake (ssuktteok), mugwort dumplings (ssukdanja), mugwort soup (ssuktang)|
|Chopail||Buddha's birthday||Lantern festival||Day 8 of Month 4||rice cake (jjinddeok), flower cake (hwajeon)|
|Dano||Spring festival||Washing hair with iris water, ssireum, swinging, giving fans as gifts||Day 5 of Month 5||rice cake with herbs (surichitteok), herring soup (junchiguk)|
|Yudu||Water greeting||Water greeting, washing hair to wash away bad luck||Day 15 of Month 6||Five coloured noodles (yudumyeon), rice dumplings (sudan)|
|Chilseok||Meeting day of Gyeonwoo and Jiknyeo, in Korean folk tale||Fabric weaving||Day 7 of Month 7||wheat pancake (milijeonbyeong), rice cake with red beans (sirutteok)|
|Baekjung||Worship to Buddha||Worship to Buddha||Day 15 of Month 7||mixed rice cake (seoktanbyeong)|
|Chuseok||Harvest festival||Visit to ancestral grave, ssireum, offering earliest rice grain (olbyeosinmi), circle dance (ganggang suwollae)||Day 15 of Month 8||pine flavoured rice cake stuffed with chestnuts, sesame or beans (songpyeon), taro soup (torantang)|
|Jungyangjeol||Migrant sparrows leave||Celebrating autumn with poetry and painting, composing poetry, enjoying nature. See also Chung Yeung Festival||Day 9 of Month 9||chrysanthemum pancake (gukhwajeon), roe (eoran), honey citron tea (yujacheong)|
|Dongji||Winter Solstice||Rites to dispel bad spirits||Around December 22 in the solar calendar||redbean soup with rice dumplings (patjuk)|
|Seotdal Geumeum||New Year's Eve||Staying up all night long with all doors open to receive ancestral spirits||Day 31 of Month 12||mixed rice with vegetables (bibimbap), bean power rice cakes (injeolmi), traditional biscuits (hangwa)|
There is also a number of regional festivals, celebrated according to the lunar calendar. See also Public holidays in North Korea and Public holidays in South Korea.
- Culture of Korea
- List of Korea-related topics
- Sexagenary cycle
- Chinese calendar
- Japanese calendar
- Korean era name
- Juche calendar, in use in North Korea since 1997 based on the birthdate of Kim Il Sung.
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