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January 1st, a Day to Start 2022
With a Clean Slate

The year 2022 has begun. Despite the fact that many New Year’s Day events were either cancelled or held online due to the pandemic,
another year has, nonetheless arrived. We certainly hope that 2022 will become a year filled with joy and happiness.
Let’s take this opportunity to learn more about all the stories related to January 1st as well as the various New Year’s Day events around the world.
Article: Editor’s Office



Magical sight of the New Year sunrise and places to recommend


One can never get tired of seeing the mesmerizing sight of the sun rising in the morning twilight on the first day of the year. The sun of course rises and sets every day, yet this daily phenomenon has a particularly special meaning when it’s the first day of a new year. Looking at the sunrise, people make New Year’s resolutions and wish for the health and happiness of their loved ones. They put all their troubles behind them and leave their woes in the past as they bid farewell to the old year. And People willingly wait outside in the shivering cold for a couple of hours jumping up and down to keep warm just to capture the magical moment of sunrise. Greeting New Year’s Day this way has been a widespread long-standing tradition in Korea.

Then where are the prime spots in Korea for viewing the sunrise? Jeongdongjin might be the one that first comes to mind, but in fact there are many other spots where you can see great views of the sunrise. The place to recommend first would be Mt. Taebaek, which has been referred to as one of the sacred mountains in Korea. The main attraction of the mountain is, of course, the spectacular scene of the sun rising, but also the dead yew trees. They’re so beautiful that there’s even a saying, “Live for a thousand years, dead for a thousand years.” In addition, the place is famous for snowflake hiking, which means that if lucky, you’ll be able to enjoy the sight of the sun rising over mountains covered with snow that’s so white it can even lighten up the dark.

Yangyang is a village noted for its beautiful sunrises. Hajodae Beach located in Yangyang is one of the best places to enjoy the sunset together with the scenic view of the ocean, rock formations, and cliffs. Mt. Toham, a mountain deemed sacred during the Silla Dynasty that has a history of a thousand years, is another recommended place to view the sunrise. Seokguram and Bulsuksa Temple make the mountain an ideal place to visit with families to enjoy the scenery and learn history at the same time. If you’re looking for a place not too far away, other great places to visit would be Acha Mountain’s Sunrise Square located in Seoul, Sunrise Sky Park in in Sangam, and Dumulmeori in Yangpyeong.



How January 1 became an official holiday in Korea


When did New Year’s Day first become a public holiday in Korea? It’s said that it was 1896 when Emperor Gojong of the Korean Empire first adopted the Gregorian calendar as he adopted the solar calendar as the official calendar. Emperor Gojong changed the birthdays of the royal family to be based on the Gregorian calendar as well as all the official events and ancestral rites of the royal family. Then in 1949, the first government of Korea designated January 1 to 3 as statutory holidays as it enacted the Regulations on the Statutory Holidays of Government Offices.”

Later on in 1989, as the Roh Tae-Woo government changed the official name from Lunar New Year to Seollal, three days including Seollal became public holidays. At the same time, the number of holidays for Solar Year’s day was reduced to just two days, including January 1st and 2nd. As Koreans struggled to overcome the Asian Financial Crisis of 1998 and tried to reduce the burden from double taxation, January 2nd was removed from the list of statutory holidays, leaving only January 1st. For people nowadays, January 1st is a special day that marks the beginning of a whole new year.



Companies have their own ways of beginning a new year


Companies hold a kick-off event January 2nd (January 3rd this year), the first day that employees go to work, as January 1st is a statutory holiday. During the kick-off meeting, most businesses introduce a new vision and targets that will help them achieve another successful year and share blessings with others. Before, kick-off events involved the CEO giving a new year greeting speech in front of everyone gathered in the auditorium, but these days, much has changed.

Some companies hold volunteering or blood donation events together to reflect on the meaning of sharing and giving. Others go hiking together to see the sunrise or take part in marathons to build solid teamwork and establish a healthy corporate culture. Some distribution companies host events where employees hand out coffee to citizens in front of stores instead of holding kick-off events. In addition, some Internet companies simply choose not to have such events. This is because having kick-off events do not mean much for these companies who have to provide services to users 24/7. Since last year, an increasing number of companies have decided to hold online events instead to kick off the New Year due to the pandemic.



Unique New Year’s Day customs around the world


New Year’s Day is a special day to celebrate for everyone around the world as much as it is to us. You have probably seen on TV or in movies the sight of Times Square filled with large crowds gathered to count down to midnight together. January 1st, which is referred to as “New Year’s Day” in the United States, is the third most important holiday following Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In Japan, you can see Kadomatsu, an ornament decorated with bamboo and pine trees, placed at the entrance of houses on New Year’s Day. The reason bamboo and pine are used is because pine trees represent eternal life and bamboo trees, signify prosperity and strength. Also, from January 1st throughout the end of the first week, department stores in Japan sell lucky bags called Fukubukuro. The bags are filled with unknown random items, which mostly cost more than what customers pay for them.

On the first day of the year, people in Greek homes smash the pomegranate that they have hung on the door on the night before for good luck. It is believed that the more seeds which fall out as the pomegranate breaks, the more blessed the year ahead will be. While the Greeks smash pomegranates, the Danish break dishes on New Year’s Day. In Denmark, it is traditional to smash the dishes or cups that you don’t use frequently against your family or friends’ front doors on New Year’s Eve. The Danish throw dishes at their beloved one’s doors, hoping that it will help them put all their problems behind and start a fresh new year. The more broken dishes you have piled up at your door on January 1st, the more good fortune you’ll have.

There are also some countries that celebrate the beginning of a new year using a particular color or symbol. In the Philippines, people enjoy round fruits such as watermelons and apples wearing clothes with polka dots. They also fill their wallets with coins. This is because the Filipinos believe that the round shape is associated with wealth and prosperity. The Chinese have always been known for their preference for red, but they decorate almost everything in red especially during the beginning of the year. When they give lucky money to others during New Year, they make sure to put it in Hong Bao, which are red envelopes. On the other hand, Brazilians have parties dressed in white clothes that symbolize peace when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. Then on the following morning, they go to the ocean to spray flowers they’ve prepared in advance, wearing the same white clothes, to make New Year’s wishes.

As you can see, each country has its own traditional way of greeting the New Year. However, for most places, January 1st stands for a fresh new start, rather than just the day after December 31st. Forgetting about all the troubles of the past year and hoping that the coming year will be filled with blessings and happiness is perhaps something that everyone around the world wishes for on New Year’s Day.





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