The South Korean Memorial Day is held every June 6th to commemorate the people who died while in the Korean War and other significant wars or battles. On this day, since 1956, a memorial ceremony is held in the National Cemetery in Seoul. At 10 AM on Memorial Day, a siren is sounded all over the country, and people take part in a moment of silence and prayer. The South Korean flag is flown at half-staff on this day.
Constitution Day was proclaimed as a national holiday on Oct. 1949, with the creation of the National Holiday Law. It occurs on July 17th. A commemorative ceremony is held in the presence of the President, Chairman of the National Assembly, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the original constitutional assembly members. Special activities such as marathons are often held. Since 2008, Constitution Day in South Korea has been no longer a “no work” public holiday, following the restructure of laws, but it still is a national holiday for commemoration.
Korea received its independence from Japanese colonial rule on August 15, 1945, and the Republic of Korea was established soon after in 1948. Each year, South Korea celebrates the nation’s liberation from Japanese occupation and the formation of the Republic of Korea. Known as National Liberation Day, this public holiday is celebrated with festivities, ceremonies, and parades all across the country.
The holiday is often recognized by foreigners as the Korean version of the American Thanksgiving Day: it is a day when families get together, express thanks to their ancestors for a plentiful harvest, and wish for another good year. The day before and after Mid-autumn are also holidays, giving people 3 days to visit their families and hometowns. Many traditions involve expressing gratitude to ancestors. On the morning of this day, people present newly harvested rice, rice wine and Songpyeon, a crescent-shaped rice cake, to their ancestral altars. They then visit their ancestors’ graves, trimming weeds growing on and around the graves, and making formal bows of gratitude to their ancestors.
Gaecheonjeol in Korea, which means “the day when the sky opens”, is marked with various commemorative events including the re-enactment of symbolic sacrificial rituals. The day is also marked with diverse activities like public speeches, taekwondo and other performances by various artists. All schools, public offices and private offices remain closed to honor the National Foundation Day of Korea. A special event is held in downtown Seoul at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts with some 3,000 people in attendance as well as the Prime Minister.
Just like in the West, the Christian churches in South Korea hold special services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The young people especially enjoy the fellowship these observances provide. After the Christmas Eve services, they go caroling to the homes of older church members, where they are typically treated with hot drinks and snacks. There are many celebrations taking place in the Christmas time in South Korea. Many people get together and enjoy partying in the evening time. Many others visit their relatives’ houses and have a great time together. The Christmas time comes only once a year, so buildings, shops and homes are decorated with glittering lights.