Friday, February 12, 2010

Seollal and Snow

This weekend is the Seollal 설날 holiday, the Korean celebration of lunar new year. What is the lunar new year, exactly? I'm glad you asked. Usually, it begins on the second day of the second new moon after the winter solstice. At least in the Western or Gregorian calendar.

In the Chinese calendar, the solstice must occur in the eleventh lunar month. Now, since there are about twelve and one third lunar months in a solar year, the calendar has to add a thirteenth month now and then, like a leap month if you will, to straighten things out. Therefore, in such a year, the new year is actually the third new moon after the winter solstice. But that won't happen again until 2033, so I don't even know why I mentioned it.

2009 was the Year of the Ox, 2010 will be the Year of the Tiger.

Anyway. This is the most important holiday in Korea, and even more people go back to their hometowns now than do so during Chuseok. So naturally, the weather for the last two days has seen a combination of snow and sleet, which melts in the afternoon and then refreezes in the evening for a treacherous road/sidewalk surface just in time to mess with people's holiday travel plans.

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