Yeon Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival) to Celebrate Buddha’s Birthday in Korea

부처님 오신 날 Buddha’s Birthday

Korea celebrates Buddha’s birthday on April 8 according to the lunar calendar, which is May 27 in the year of 2023.

‘부처님 오신 날’ literally means ‘the day when the Buddha came’, which can be translated into ‘Buddha’s birthday.’ It’s a public holiday!

연등회 Lotus Lantern Festival

On the weekend right before the holiday, Lotus Lantern Festival is held to celebrate the Buddha’s birthday. It’s called 연등회 (Yeon Deung Hoe) in Korean and is added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

Lighting lanterns symbolizes illuminating the world with Buddha’s wisdom. The holiday is celebrated not just for Buddhists, but for everyone in Korea, as a cultural festival. 

Historical References

Lotus Lantern Festival is one of the oldest festivals in Korea.

Silla Dynasty (57 BCE – 935)

There’s a record from the historical record <삼국사기 (Samguk Sagi)> that the King Gyeongmun and Queen Jinseong visited Hwangnyongsa Temple and saw lanterns in 866 and 890, respectively.

Goryeo Dynasty (918 – 1392)

A detailed record of the Lotus Lantern Festival is written in the record left by Ting Taejo, <훈요십조 (Hunyo Shipjo)>.
It was considered a very important national event through out the Goryeo Dynasty. 

Lotus Lantern Festival Events

1. Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns

Day: May 11 (THUR) – 28 (SUN)

Location: Gwanghwamun Square, Jogye-sa Temple, and Bongeun-sa Temple

2. Lantern Parade

Day: May 20 (SAT) 7:00 – 9:30PM

Location: Jongno Street (Heunginjimun to Jogye-sa Temple)

3. Traditional Cultural Events

Day: May 21 (SUN) 12:00 – 6:00PM

Location: Street in front of Jogye-sa Temple

4. Cultural Performances

Day: May 21 (SUN) 12:00 – 6:00PM

Location: Street in front of Jogye-sa Temple

5. Buddha’s Birthday Dharma Ceremony

Day: May 27 (SAT) 10:00AM

Location: Every temples all around Korea

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