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What birthdays are important in Korea?


Korea is a country that values age and celebrates various birthdays throughout a person’s lifetime. These celebrations are not only limited to human beings but also animals and even objects. In this article, we will explore the most important birthdays celebrated in Korea.

First Birthday (Doljanchi)

The first birthday or Doljanchi is one of the most significant birthdays in Korea. It is a celebration of a child’s survival during their first year of life, which was historically fraught with danger. The celebration includes various rituals such as a prayer ceremony, where the child chooses an object that predicts their future, and the doljabi game, where the baby chooses an item among various objects that symbolize different professions or traits.

60th Birthday (Hwangap)

The 60th birthday or Hwangap is another significant birthday in Korea. It is a celebration of reaching old age and is considered a milestone as it signifies the completion of one cycle of life. Hwangap celebrations include a feast with family and friends, where the person receives gifts and blessings for their health and longevity.

100th Day (Baekil)

The 100th day or Baekil is celebrated 100 days after a baby’s birth. This day marks the end of the vulnerable period for infants and is celebrated by giving offerings to ancestors and performing traditional rituals to ward off evil spirits.

20th Birthday (Seijin)

The 20th birthday or Seijin is an important milestone in Korean culture as it marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood. On this day, young adults dress up in traditional clothes and attend ceremonies where they receive congratulatory messages from family members and friends.

70th Birthday (Kohi)

The 70th birthday or Kohi is another important birthday in Korea. It is considered a time for reflection and gratitude for having lived a long life. Celebrations include a feast with family and friends, where the person receives gifts and blessings for their health and longevity.

15th Birthday (P’al-ssi)

The 15th birthday or P’al-ssi is an important milestone for girls as it marks their coming of age. Traditionally, girls would wear traditional hanbok attire and have a photoshoot to celebrate this occasion.

50th Birthday (Changsa)

The 50th birthday or Changsa is considered a significant milestone as it marks the halfway point of life. It is celebrated with a feast with family and friends, where the person receives gifts and blessings for their health and longevity.

Pepero Day

Pepero Day is celebrated on November 11th, where people exchange Pepero sticks, a popular snack in Korea. This day is not a formal birthday celebration but has become a cultural phenomenon due to its popularity.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day in Korea is not limited to couples but also celebrates friendships. On this day, people exchange chocolates and gifts with friends and loved ones.

White Day

White Day is celebrated on March 14th, where men return the favor to women who gave them gifts on Valentine’s Day. This day is significant in Korea as it allows men to express their feelings towards women they are interested in.

Buddha’s Birthday

Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. This day celebrates the birth of Buddha and includes various activities such as lantern parades, temple visits, and traditional performances.


Chuseok is a three-day harvest festival celebrated in Korea. This day is significant as it allows families to gather, share food and perform traditional rituals to honor their ancestors.


Birthdays in Korea are not only about celebrating one’s age but also signify significant milestones in a person’s life. These celebrations are an important part of Korean culture and allow for reflection, gratitude and the strengthening of relationships with family and friends.

What is the birthday rule in Korea?

In Korean culture, when you are born, you are immediately considered to be one year old, including the time that you were in the womb (even though it is only nine months). As a result, your Korean age will always be one year older than your age according to Western or international standards.

Why is 61st birthday important in Korea?

In Korean culture, someone who is technically 60 years old is considered to be celebrating their 61st birthday. This is because reaching 60 years old signifies the completion of one full cycle of the traditional lunar calendar, and the beginning of another.

What are the two most important birthdays in the life of a Korean?

Similar to how certain Western cultures have specific celebrations for important birthdays like the first or 21st birthday in America, Korean culture has significant birthdays such as the 100-day, first, 60th, 70th, and 80th birthdays that are celebrated in unique ways.

Why do Koreans have 2 birthdays?

In Korea, a distinct age-calculating system is used where a newborn baby is considered to be one year old already. Every year on January 1st, everyone in Korea ages one year, regardless of their actual birthday. Therefore, if a baby is born on December 31st, they will be two years old on January 1st of the following year.

Are birthdays a big deal in Korea?

The concept of special age birthdays holds significant cultural importance for South Koreans due to the emphasis on age in their culture. Age dictates communication styles, dining etiquette, and even the dynamics of friendships.

Why is turning 60 a big deal in Korea?

In Korean culture, the 60th birthday, also known as Hwangap (환갑), is significant because it represents a return to the year of birth after completing five cycles of the twelve-year lunar calendar. It is considered an auspicious milestone.

In addition to these traditional birthdays and celebrations, Koreans also celebrate modern holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. These holidays have become more popular in recent years due to globalization and the influence of Western culture.

Christmas in Korea is celebrated more as a romantic holiday rather than a religious one. Couples exchange gifts and go on dates, while families gather for a festive meal. It is also common for people to participate in charity events and volunteer work during the holiday season.

New Year’s Eve, known as Seollal, is one of the most significant holidays in Korea. It is a time for families to gather and pay respect to their ancestors. Traditional rituals such as the ancestral rite are performed, and food such as tteokguk, a rice cake soup, is eaten to symbolize longevity.

Overall, birthdays and celebrations are an essential part of Korean culture. They allow people to come together, honor traditions and create lasting memories with their loved ones. Whether it’s a traditional birthday or a modern holiday, these celebrations play an important role in strengthening relationships and maintaining cultural identity.

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