OK, I have no backup on this one that I can send you to. But I’ve now been told this piece of advice by three different Korean American women. Adamantly.
If you cannot celebrate on the holiday, you must celebrate it early. Never late. To celebrate something late is considered bad luck.
Our first Korean teacher told us this as part of our introduction to Korean culture. A few months later our friend who hosted our son’s dol told us again as we were trying to settle on a date for his party. Then we heard the message again a few weeks ago when our current Korean teacher told us about her family celebrating Seolnal.
Since Seolnal was on a Thursday this year, meaning the adults would be working and the kids would be in school, her family (and the whole church, in fact) celebrated the weekend before. And yes, the holiday was celebrated in a traditional way complete with honoring the ancestors, saebae, saebae ton, and yut nori.
It seems to me that the U.S. mentality on moving celebrations is to celebrate on whichever weekend is closer to the date of the holiday. At least that what we’ve always done in my family. But that doesn’t appear to be the case in the Korean culture. So if you don’t want bad luck, celebrate early!