Love Days in Korea

Couples in Korea have special days each month, on the 14th day, to celebrate their love for each other. Each month has its own theme, so what better way to start out the new year than with celebrating your love. lovefingerscropped

Having a love day each month might sound cumbersome or like it’s commercializing love. But honestly, most of them are simple and some don’t involve buying at all. Besides, there’s no such thing as over expressing your love for someone, right? Here’s the list.

January 14–Diary Day (calendars/daily planners or diaries are exchanged and special days are written in)
February 14–Valentine’s Day (girls give guys gifts, usually chocolates)
March 14–White Day (guys give girls gifts, see March 14 post)
April 14–Black Day (see Black Day post)
May 14–Rose Day/Yellow Day (Couples exchange roses and wear yellow on this day, while single people eat curry. If you want to attract a mate, it is apparently to wear something yellow or eat something that is yellow.)
June 14–Kiss Day (self explanatory; makes a great day for a first kiss)
July 14–Silver Day (exchange gifts of silver, like charms or couples rings)
August 14–Green Day (spend time outside while wearing green; singles can drink soju–which comes in a green bottle–on this day and lament their single status)
September 14–Photo Day (take many photos of each other and photos together)
October 14–Wine Day (self-explanatory, I think)
November 14–Movie Day/Cookie Day (take a movie with your date; give your child a cookie)
December 14–Hug Day (hugging chases away the winter blues)

So there you have it–a complete list of Korea’s love days. The most popular ones, of course, are Feb. 14, March 14, and April 14. But I think love days are a fun idea, and would be something especially fun for families to observe with younger kids. They would probably really get into the idea of celebrating a holiday every month.


Chuseok 2015

This weekend marks the Korean holiday of Chuseok, a traditional harvest festival. As most of you probably already know, the date of the holiday follows the lunar calendar so the holiday falls on a different date on the Gregorian calendar. This year the Chuseok holiday is Sept. 27.

My husband is traveling for work on Chuseok, so our family celebrated a week early with a homemade Korean meal. Likely the little guy and I will play yut nori and eat Korean again on the actual date of Chuseok.

If you’re wondering what to cook for the holiday, here are a couple of ideas from Korean Bapsang. The Galbijjim recipe can even be prepared in the slow cooker for added convenience. According to Hyosun, the owner of Korean Bapsang, both of these dishes are traditional ones to prepare for Chuseok. My family can personally recommend both. Yum!

In Korea, Chuseok is about spending time with family and honoring ancestors. I highlighted ways to incorporate honoring ancestors in my 2011 Chuseok post. But I thought I’d add another suggestioKoreanChildren'sFavoriteStoriesn for families celebrating Chuseok.

Tuttle Publishing offers several books covering Korean culture or language. Their book, Korean Children’s Favorite Stories by Kim So-Un, is an English-language book filled with folk tales that have been told by Korean families for generations. Some of the stories are unique to Korea, while the plot line of some will be familiar. The illustrations by Jeong Kyoung-Sim are wonderfully done in a Korean style that resembles paintings done on ancient Korean screens.

This book would be a wonderful addition to a family’s library and a fun way to share Korean culture with your children.

만우절 (April Fools Day)

Not sure how I’ve missed this over the last nine years, but somehow I didn’t know until this year that April Fools Day is big in Korea. It was big on our house this year for the first time–9-year-olds are all about jokes! So maybe it was fitting that I learned of Korean student pranks this year.

In Korea, the holiday is called 만우절 (pronounced “ma-noo-jawl), which is translated “very foolish holiday). From what I’ve read, on this day you have to suspect of everything said or done to you. Whole classes in school get together to pull pranks on the teachers.

You can check out some of the most used 만우절 ideas here:




Seolnal 2014

One of the biggest Korean holidays is coming up on Jan. 31. Seolnal is the Korean lunar new year. It is one of a handful of Korean holidays that are celebrated according to the lunar calendar, meaning that the actual date fluctuates from year to you on our calendar.

Our kids doing saebae last year.

Our kids doing saebae last year.

This is a great holiday to celebrate with your family and friends. Traditionally Koreans make a big feast and honor their ancestors. Children honor their older relatives with a formal bow (saebae) for which they receive money (saebae ton). And families often play games like yut nori. You can find the game on Ebay:

Learn how to say Happy New Year in Korean: 새해 복 많이 받으세요. It literally means, I wish you good blessings in the new year. Here is a video that will help you with pronunciation.

Jan. 31 marks the beginning of the year of the horse. Do you know your Korean zodiac sign? If not, check out this site.

It has a calculator that you enter your birthday into and it will tell you your sign. At the top of the page, there is also a category marked “Elements.” To get your full Korean zodiac sign you have to know your elementy (metal, water, wood, fire, earth).

If you’ve read Linda Sue Park’s book Archer’s Quest, you know how important it is to know your element.

The traditional food for Seolnal is tteokguk, which is rice cake soup. Here’s a great recipe for it:

I know it’s early but to all of you I say: 새해 복 많이 받으세요! I hope you each have a wonderful Seolnal.

Children’s Day–May 5

Sunday, May 5, is Children’s Day in Korea. It is a day that children are celebrated and indulged, a day for doing fun things as a family and eating the childrens’ favorite foods.

The Korea Blog, an English-language blog run by (which is the official web page of the Republic of Korea), recently shared a post entitled “Korea’s Children’s Day and Bang Jeong-hwan.” The post explains the history of the holiday and tells about the man who started it.

So check it out before heading out for your Children’s Day adventure.


Seolnal School Presentation

So Monday, my exchange student, my son, and I will do a Seolnal (lunar new year) presentation for our student’s class. Since I know lots of families give presentations around this time of year, I thought I’d share what we’re doing. The class is upper elementary, but this presentation idea could be adapted for any age class, I think.

First we’re doing an introduction, which will include a brief history of Korea (how it’s 5,000 years old vs. the US being only 238 years old, and how for most of that time it was one country). During the introduction we’ll hand out maps of Korea that we found in one of the curriculums listed in the bar at right.

Next, we’ll give a brief “class” on the Korean language. We’ll explain how and when the alphabet was developed, show the kids the alphabet (and give them handouts of the alphabet), and teach them to say hello and thank you in Korean

Since our exchange student is only here for a year, she’d like to talk to her classmates about how the schools in Korea are different from schools in the US. She’ll talk about the school year being different, as well as how their school days are different.

Then we’ll give an overview of holidays in Korea, talking about how some are similar (like Memorial Day and Independence Day) and how some are the same (like Christmas, although it isn’t widely celebrated). But we’ll focus on the two main holidays of Chuseok and Seolnal. We’ll explain how these are family holidays and that families travel for several hours to be with their families and honor their ancestors.

We’ll tell them on Seolnal Koreans eat a special rice cake soup, play games, and the children will do a special bow in front of the oldest family member, for which they receive money.

We plan for our student and our son to demonstrate the sebae bow and then have all of the students try it, for which they will receive sebae ton in the form of chocolate coins.

Then we’ll teach the class how to play yut nori. Since you play yut nori in teams so I’ll lead a team and our student will lead a team. Once the game is over, we’ll have the students make their own yut nori set using craft sticks and buttons. We’ll have the rules of yut nori and the game boards printed out already so each student can take their set and play at home.

At the end of the presentation, we’ll have a Korean snack for each student which we’ve decided will be a ChocoPie with a Korean flag tooth pick stuck in it.

I’ve also recommended some books that the kids could read on their own if they want to know more. The titles include: The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park, The Next New Year by Janet Wong, and New Clothes for New Year’s Day by Hyun-Joo Bae.

Honestly there are so many things to include that it was hard to narrow it down. But since the presentation is going to be on Seolnal, I thought it would be best to stick with a general overview and then specifics for the holiday. We’re all looking forward to the presentation, and hopefully the class will enjoy learning a little bit about a different culture.


Happy Pepero Day!

Happy Millennium Pepero Day from our house to yours

Not that I ever need an excuse to eat chocolate, but if you do here’s your excuse for the day. It’s Pepero (빼빼로) Day!

November 11 was chosen (by the company, I think) as the day to share this delicious treat with family and friends. And today being 11/11/11, it’s like the biggest Pepero Day of all Pepero Days and is being called Millennium Pepero Day. 🙂

This Korean holiday is easy to celebrate. Go to the Korean market. Purchase some Pepero. Give packages to your family and friends.

Nothing to it. Rumor has it that Pepero (the company) sells more Pepero sticks on Pepero Day than they do on all of the other days of the year combined. That may be true, but Pepero (especially the almond variety for me) is enjoyed throughout the year at our house.

So eat up and enjoy this very special once every one thousand-year commercial holiday. 🙂