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Other Lunar Folk Celebrations


Other Lunar Folk Celebrations

Over and above the major Lunar Holidays, Korea has many more folk celebrations determined by the lunar calendar. However, many of them are not as widely marked as they once were.

Ipchunbang (2nd lunar month)
From around Feb. 4 by the solar calendar, when the sun is at 315 degrees celestial longitude, the Ipchun or "beginning of spring" period begins. It is the first of the 24 seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar. Although it is said spring begins from that day, the weather is still quite cold. On this day, people used to post signs reading "Good luck in the coming of spring."

Hansik (2nd lunar month)
Hansik, which means "Cold Food" day, falls on the 105th day after the winter solstice or about early April. Once there was a man named Gaejachu from the Jin kingdom in ancient China. A villainous retainer intrigued against him, so Gaejachu hid in the slopes of Mt. Myeonsan. Jinmungong finally found him and asked him to return. However, Gaejachu refused to come out. Jinmungong started a fire on the mountain to force him to come out, but Gaejachu did not come out and burned to death. People began eating cold food to remember the loyalty of Gaejachu on Hansik day. Koreans mark the day by going to their family graveyard, perform an ancestral rites ceremony, kiji and plant trees or clean up the gravesite.

Samwol Samjinnal (3rd lunar month)
The third day of the third month by the lunar calendar, "Samwol Samjitnal" is the traditional day on which to celebrate spring, the day when the swallows returned from warm southern climes. People would prepare various foods to be used in traditional fertility rites.

Chopail (4th lunar month)
The eighth day of the fourth lunar month is Buddha`s birthday. At the spectacular feast of the lanterns, the bright glow of thousands of lanterns is seen by Koreans as an auspicious sign. In Seoul, the day is marked by a must-see paper lantern parade near Jogye-sa Temple, one of Korea`s busiest Buddhist temples. Temples across Korea are decorated with colorful paper lanterns.

Dano /Tano (5th lunar month)
The fifth day of the fifth lunar month has traditionally been called "Dano," "Suri," or "Cheonjungjeol," the day when Koreans pray for a bumper crop. In times past, girls would wash their hair in water boiled with iris, and would go out to play on the swings, swooping back and forth, like spring swallows. Boys would participate in ssireum, traditional Korean wrestling, matches.

Yudu (6th lunar month)
On the fifteenth day of the sixth month by the lunar calendar, people went to streams to bathe and to wash their hair, which they believed would prevent them from suffering from the summer heat.

Sambok (begins in 6th lunar month)
Sambok refers to the supposed three hottest days of summer, usually in July and August by the solar calendar. To beat the heat, people still eat samgyetang, or chicken-and-ginseng soup. These are also traditional days for eating dog meat, which is said to have a 'cooling' effect.

Chilseok (7th lunar month)
Chilseok is the seventh day of the seventh month by the lunar calendar. According to an old Korean legend, the two lovers` stars "Gyeonu" and "Jiknyeo" are separated by the Milky Way. As there is no bridge over the Milky Way "stream", they cannot meet each other, but on the seventh night of the seventh Moon, all the magpies and crows on earth fly up to heaven to form a bridge across the Milky Way so that the two lovers can meet.

Baekjung (7th lunar month)
Baekjung is the fifteenth day of the seventh month by the lunar calendar, which comes after the busiest season of the year for farmers. It marks a day of rest before the busy harvest season that lies ahead.

Junggu (9th lunar month)
Junggu, which literally means "double nine," is the ninth day of the Ninth month by the lunar calendar. People eat chrysanthemum cakes, a special dumpling, and drink chrysanthemum wine. Packing a picnic meal of wine and food, they hike up to view the crimson maple leaves in the mountains and valleys.

Sangdal-gosa (10th lunar month)
In the tenth lunar month, called "Sangdal" in Korean, people hold an ancestral veneration ritual to pray for the well-being of their families. Koreans, having just completed their harvest by the tenth month, make offerings of the newly harvested fruits and grains both to the heavenly deity and to their ancestors.

Dongji (Winter solstice)
Dongji, or the day of the winter solstice, is the longest night of the year. In the past, Koreans believed that it was an auspicious day, marking the sun`s resurrection. A favorite food on Dongji was red bean porridge (pictured above).

Jaeyaui jong (New Year's Eve)
The last night of the year is called "Jeseok" or "Jeya," both of which mean "New Year's Eve." Young men and children bow in respect to their older relatives in a formal ritual called "old year farewells." People stay up all night, playing Yutnori or talking, mindful of the old saying, "If you fall asleep tonight, tomorrow your eyebrows will be snow-white."

K4E Note: If you are aware of any other programmes or if any of the above should be updated, please let us know at info@korea4expats.com.

Last Updated on 2012-07-27


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