Historically, the birth of the calendar originated from astronomical observations of the unchanging cycle of nature. Once they had discovered the laws of celestial mechanics, people made a calendar consisting of three hundred sixty five days and used ...
Historically, the birth of the calendar originated from astronomical observations of the unchanging cycle of nature. Once they had discovered the laws of celestial mechanics, people made a calendar consisting of three hundred sixty five days and used it as an indicator of time. But in East Asian countries, including Korea, the calendar was not only a measure of the cycle of nature, but also an astrological tool, for example informing which days were auspicious or inauspicious. With the introduction to the Western calendar into East Asia in the late 19th century, the function and meaning of the traditional calendar started to change. The official change from the traditional to the Western calendar in 1896, in the late Joseon dynasty, marked a radical transition from an era of agricultural order to the modern time order.
It was in the period of the "Great Han Empire" (1897-1910), as Korea opened her ports to the outer world, that the modern time order started to form; this opening meant that Korea began to emerge from Chinese influence in politics and domestic cultural life, and to become assimilated to western-oriented international politics.
In summary, the establishment of the modern calendar and of national holidays can be seen a part of a series of events heralding the birth of the modern nation in East Asia.
With the introduction of the western calendar, the Korean government, in the name of developing a modern culture, established national holidays and also the practice of naming an era (reign) after the current reigning monarch. The same phenomenon appeared with the foundation of Manchukuo in the 1930s. It declared itself an empire and in its calendar, started to name the era according to the reigning emperor.
This paper examines the changes that followed from the introduction of the Western calendar into East Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and Manchukuo, and in particular the establishment and recording of national holidays.
In the traditional calendar of East Asia there was no record of royal events or festivals; in other words there had been no concept of national holidays. The development of national holidays had appeared in the West with the birth of the nation-state. Now, East Asian countries, armed with the new calendar, began to record national holidays as well as royal events, a policy which was designed with the object of engendering pride in the empire.