Korean calendar

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The traditional Korean calendar is a lunisolar calendar. Like most traditional calendars of other East Asian countries, the Korean Calendar is mainly derived from the Chinese calendar [1] [2] . Dates are calculated from Korea's meridian (135th meridian east in modern time for South Korea), and observances and festivals are based in Korean culture.

A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the Moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year, then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year, then the calendar will predict the constellation near which the full moon may occur. As with all calendars which divide the year into months there is an additional requirement that the year have a whole number of months. In this case ordinary years consist of twelve months but every second or third year is an embolismic year, which adds a thirteenth intercalary, embolismic, or leap month.

Chinese calendar lunisolar calendar from China

The traditional China calendar, or Former Calendar, Traditional Calendar or Lunar Calendar, is a lunisolar calendar which reckons years, months and days according to astronomical phenomena. It is defined by GB/T 33661-2017, "Calculation and promulgation of the Chinese calendar", issued by the Standardisation Administration of China on 12 May 2017.

Meridian (geography) line between the poles with the same longitude

A (geographical) meridian is the half of an imaginary great circle on the Earth's surface, terminated by the North Pole and the South Pole, connecting points of equal longitude, as measured in angular degrees east or west of the Prime Meridian. The position of a point along the meridian is given by that longitude and its latitude, measured in angular degrees north or south of the Equator. Each meridian is perpendicular to all circles of latitude. Each is also the same length, being half of a great circle on the Earth's surface and therefore measuring 20,003.93 km.


The Gregorian calendar was officially adopted in 1896, but traditional holidays and age-reckoning for older generations are still based on the old calendar. [3] The biggest festival in Korea today is Seollal, the first day of the traditional Korean New Year. Other important festivals include Daeboreum also referred to as Boreumdaal (the first full moon), Dano (spring festival) and Chuseok (harvest moon festival), and Samjinnal (spring-opening festival). Other minor festivals include Yudu (summer festival), and Chilseok (monsoon festival).

The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used civil calendar in the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

Korean New Year

Korean New Year is the first day of the Korean lunar calendar. It is one of the most important traditional Korean holidays. The celebration usually lasts three days: the day before Korean New Year, Korean New Year itself, and the day after Korean New Year. During this time, many Koreans visit family, perform ancestral rites, wear hanbok, eat traditional food, and play folk games. Additionally, children often receive money from their elders after performing a formal bow.

Daeboreum Korean festival (Korean version of First Full Moon)

Daeboreum is a Korean holiday that celebrates the first full moon of the new year of the lunar Korean calendar which is the Korean version of the First Full Moon Festival. This holiday is accompanied by many traditions.


The Korean calendar is derived from the Chinese calendar. The traditional calendar designated its years via Korean era names from 270 to 963, then Chinese era names with Korean era names were used a few times until 1894. In 1894 and 1895, the lunar calendar was used with years numbered from the foundation of the Joseon Dynasty in 1392.

Korean era names were used during the period of Silla, Goguryeo, Balhae, Taebong, Goryeo, Joseon, and the Korean Empire. Dangun-giwon, the era name originating from the foundation of Gojoseon is also widely used in Korea as an indication of long civilisation of Korea.

A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers. Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back to year one or yuán (元). The numbering of the year increases on the first day of the Chinese calendar each year. The era name originated as a motto or slogan chosen by an emperor.

Joseon Korean kingdom, 1392 to 1897

Joseon dynasty was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and was replaced by the Korean Empire in October 1897. It was founded following the aftermath of the overthrow of Goryeo in what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul. The kingdom's northernmost borders were expanded to the natural boundaries at the rivers of Amnok and Tuman through the subjugation of the Jurchens. Joseon was the last dynasty of Korea and its longest-ruling Confucian dynasty.

The Gregorian calendar was adopted on 1 January 1896, with Korean era name "Geonyang (건양 / 建陽, "adopting solar calendar")."

From 1945 until 1961 in South Korea, Gregorian calendar years were counted from the foundation of Gojoseon in 2333 BC (regarded as year one), the date of the legendary founding of Korea by Dangun, hence these Dangi (단기 / 檀紀) years were 4278 to 4294. This numbering was informally used with the Korean lunar calendar before 1945 but has only been occasionally used since 1961, and mostly in North Korea prior to 1997.

South Korea Republic in East Asia

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and lying to the east of the Asian mainland. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. South Korea lies in the north temperate zone and has a predominantly mountainous terrain. It comprises an estimated 51.4 million residents distributed over 100,363 km2 (38,750 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of around 10 million.

Gojoseon Ancient state, based in northern Korean peninsula and Manchuria

Gojoseon, originally named Joseon, was an ancient kingdom on the Korean Peninsula. The addition of Go, meaning "ancient", distinguishes it from the later Joseon kingdom (1392–1897). Some historians argue that the precise Korean pronunciation of the word was Jyushin, and the Chinese regions of Sushen, Jishen, Xishen, and Sushin have all referenced the ancient Joseon Empire, citing the controversial historical Hwandan Gogi.

Dangun Korean king and deity

Dangun or Dangun Wanggeom was the legendary founder and god-king of Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom, around present-day Liaoning, Manchuria, and the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. He is said to be the "grandson of heaven" and "son of a bear", and to have founded the kingdom in 2333 BC. The earliest recorded version of the Dangun legend appears in the 13th-century Samguk Yusa, which cites China's Book of Wei and Korea's lost historical record Gogi.

Although not being an official calendar, in South Korea, the traditional Korean calendar is still maintained by the government. The current version is based on China's Shixian calendar ("siheonnyeok 시헌력(時憲暦)" in Korean), which was in turn developed by Jesuit scholars. However, because the Korean calendar is now based on the moon's shape seen from Korea, occasionally the calendar diverges from the traditional Chinese calendar by one day, even though the underlying rule is the same. As a result, sometime the New Year's Day differ by one between the two countries, which last happened in 1997. [4]

In North Korea, the Juche calendar has been used since 1997 to number its years, based on the birth of the state's founder Kim Il-sung.



Note that traditional Korean calendar has no concept of "weekdays": the following are names of weekdays in the modern (Western) calendar.

EnglishHangulHanjaTransliterationHeavenly body
Monday월요일月曜日woryoil Moon
Tuesday화요일火曜日hwayoil Mars
Wednesday수요일水曜日suyoil Mercury
Thursday목요일木曜日mogyoil Jupiter
Friday금요일金曜日geumyoil Venus
Saturday토요일土曜日toyoil Saturn
Sunday일요일日曜日iryoil Sun


In modern Korean language, the months of both the traditional lunisolar and Western calendars are named by prefixing Sino-Korean numerals to wol, the Sino-Korean word for "month". Traditionally, when speaking of individuals' birth months, the months of the lunisolar calendar were named by prefixing the native Korean name of the animal associated with each Earthly Branch in the Chinese zodiac to dal, the native Korean word for "month". Additionally, the first, eleventh, and twelfth months have other Korean names which are similar to traditional Chinese month names. [5] However, the other traditional Chinese month names, such as Xìngyuè ("apricot month") for the second month, are not used in Korean.

Modern nameTraditional nameNotes
TranslationHangul RR TranslationHangul RR
Month 11월 (일월)Ilwol Tiger Month호랑이달Horangidal
Primary Month정월 (正月)Jeong-wolA loanword from Chinese Zhēngyuè
Month 22월 (이월)Iwol Rabbit Month토끼달Tokkidal
Month 33월 (삼월)Samwol Dragon Month용달Yongdal
Month 44월 (사월)Sawol Snake Month뱀달Baemdal
Month 55월 (오월)Owol Horse Month말달Maldal
Month 66월 (유월)Yuwol Sheep Month양달Yangdal
Month 77월 (칠월)Chilwol Monkey Month원숭이달Wonseung-idal
Month 88월 (팔월)Palwol Rooster Month닭달Dakdal
Month 99월 (구월)Guwol Dog Month개달Gaedal
Month 1010월 (시월)Siwol Pig Month돼지달Dwaejidal
Month 1111월 (십일월)Sibilwol Rat Month쥐달Jwidal
Winter Solstice Month동짓달DongjitdalCompare Chinese Dōngyuè , "Winter Month"
Month 1212월 (십이월)Sibiwol Ox Month소달Sodal
섣달SeotdalCompare Chinese Làyuè , "preservation month"


The lunar calendar is used for the observation of traditional festivals, such as Seollal, Chuseok, and Buddha's Birthday. It is also used for jesa memorial services for ancestors and the marking of birthdays by older Koreans.

Traditional holidays

FestivalSignificanceEventsDate (lunar)Food
Seollal (설날)Lunar New Year's DayAn ancestral service is offered before the grave of the ancestors, New Year's greetings are exchanged with family, relatives and neighbors; bows to elders (sebae, 세배, 歲拜), yut nori (윷놀이).Day 1 of Month 1rice cake soup ( tteokguk , 떡국), honey cakes ( yakgwa , 약과, 藥果).
Daeboreum (대보름, 大보름)First full moonGreeting of the moon (dalmaji, 달맞이), kite-flying, burning talismans to ward off evil spirits (aengmagi taeugi, 액막이 태우기), bonfires (daljip taeugi, 달집 태우기)Day 15 of Month 1rice boiled with five grains (ogokbap, 오곡밥, 五穀-), eating nuts, e.g. walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, chestnuts ( bureom , 부럼), wine drinking (gwibalgisul)
Meoseumnal ( 머슴날 )Festival for servantsHousecleaning, coming of age ceremony, fishermen's shaman rite (yeongdeunggut, 영등굿)Day 1 of Month 2stuffed pine-flavored rice cakes ( songpyeon , 송편)
Samjinnal (삼짇날)Migrant swallows returnLeg fighting, fortune tellingDay 3 of Month 3azalea wine (dugyeonju, 두견주, 杜鵑酒), azalea rice cake (dugyeon hwajeon , 두견화전, 杜鵑花煎)
Hansik (한식, 寒食)Beginning of farming seasonVisit to ancestral grave for offering rite, and cleaning and maintenance.Day 105 after winter solstice cold food only: mugwort cake (ssuktteok, 쑥떡), mugwort dumplings (ssukdanja, 쑥단자), mugwort soup (ssuktang, 쑥탕)
Chopail (釋迦誕生日) Buddha's birthday Lotus Lantern festivalDay 8 of Month 4rice cake (jjintteok, 찐떡), flower rice cake ( hwajeon , 화전, 花煎)
Dano (단오, 端午, or 수릿날)Spring festivalWashing hair with iris water, wrestling ( ssireum , 씨름), swinging, giving fans as giftsDay 5 of Month 5rice cake with herbs (surichwitteok, 수리취떡), herring soup (junchiguk, 준치국)
Yudu (유두, 流頭)Water greetingWater greeting, washing hair to wash away bad luckDay 15 of Month 6Five coloured noodles (yudumyeon, 유두면), cooked rice cake (sudan, 수단, 水團)
Chilseok (칠석, 七夕)Meeting day of Gyeonwoo and Jiknyeo, in Korean folk taleFabric weavingDay 7 of Month 7wheat pancake (miljeonbyeong, 밀전병), steamed rice cake with red beans ( sirutteok , 시루떡)
Baekjung (백중, 百中)Worship to BuddhaWorship to BuddhaDay 15 of Month 7mixed rice cake (seoktanbyeong, 석탄병, 惜呑餠)
Chuseok (추석, 秋夕)Harvest festivalVisit to ancestral grave, ssireum, offering earliest rice grain (olbyeosinmi, 올벼신미, --新味), circle dance (ganggang sullae, 강강술래)Day 15 of Month 8pine-flavored rice cake stuffed with chestnuts, sesame or beans ( songpyeon , 송편), taro soup (torantang, 토란탕)
Jungyangjeol (중양절, 重陽節)Migrant sparrows leaveCelebrating autumn with poetry and painting, composing poetry, enjoying nature.Day 9 of Month 9chrysanthemum pancake (gukhwajeon, 국화전, 菊花煎), fish roe (eoran, 어란, 魚卵), honey citron tea ( yuja-cheong , 유자청, 柚子淸)
Dongji (동지, 冬至) Winter Solstice Rites to dispel bad spiritsAround December 22 in the solar calendarred bean porridge with rice dumplings ( patjuk , 팥죽)
Seotdal Geumeum (섣달그믐) New Year's Eve Staying up all night long with all doors open to receive ancestral spiritsLast day of Month 12mixed rice with vegetables ( bibimbap , 비빔밥), bean powder rice cakes ( injeolmi , 인절미), traditional biscuits ( hangwa , 한과, 韓菓)

There are also many regional festivals celebrated according to the lunar calendar.

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Thai lunar calendar, or Tai calendar, is a lunisolar Buddhist calendar. It is used for calculating lunar-regulated holy days. Based on the SuriyaYatra, with likely influence from the traditional Hindu Surya Siddhanta, it has its own unique structure that does not require the Surya Siddhanta to calculate. Lunisolar calendars combine lunar and solar calendars for a nominal year of 12 months. An extra day or an extra 30-day month is intercalated at irregular intervals.

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Thai calendar Wikipedia disambiguation page

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Adoption of the Gregorian calendar

The adoption of the Gregorian Calendar was an event in the modern history of most nations and societies, marking a change from their traditional dating system to the modern dating system that is widely used around the world today. Some countries adopted the new calendar from 1582, some did not do so before the early twentieth century, and others did so at various dates between; however a number continue to use a different civil calendar. For many the new style calendar is only used for civil purposes and the old style calendar remains used in religious contexts. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the world's most widely used civil calendar. During – and for some time after – the change between systems, it has been common to use the terms Old Style and New Style when giving dates, to indicate which calendar was used to reckon them.


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