Sunday, February 5, 2012

Korea:Traditional Events Welcome First Full Moon of the Year

Korea Celebrates First Full Moon of Lunar New Year

A village of traditional Korean-style houses in the middle of the capital holds events such as: displaying seasoned greens, which Koreans eat on that day; making ogok-bap -- boiled rice with five pulses such as red beans, kidney beans and millet -- and sharing nuts traditionally eaten on the day to ward off boils; as well as games like seesawing and kite-flying.

Cheonggyecheon Plaza will see traditional Korean games such as tuho -- throwing sticks into a barrel -- and the local variety of shuttlecocks, which is played with the feet. Events include writing family precepts and releasing balloons carrying people's hopes. The Cheonggye Stream will also see the revival of a rite where people cross a bridge once for every year of their lives to guard against affliction in their legs. The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. on a 1 km section between Gwangtong Bridge and Mojeon Bridge. Ganggangsulae, a Korean circle dance, and fireworks will complete the event.

In celebration of Daeboreum, the first full moon of the lunar year, residents of Hampyeong, South Jeolla Province play jwibul-nori, a traditional game spinning a tin with a fire inside.

The octagonal square on Mt. Namsan will attract 100 elementary schoolchildren who will fly kites and make bamboo strainers which Koreans hang on their doors on the eve of Daeboreum to bring happiness. At Boramae Park, people can also take part in folk games themselves.

Statues representing 10 Korean symbols of longevity will be set up in Insa-dong, Seoul, which is famous for its old-Korea atmosphere and will be accompanied by traditional customs, including people writing their wishes on pieces of paper that are then tied to a string.

Despite teeth-chattering winds, people didn't mind braving the cold weather to observe the first full moon of the year, or Jeongwol Daeboreum, which falls on the 15th day of the first month on the lunar calender.

On this day, Koreans eat ogok-bap or five-grain rice with an assortment of seasoned vegetables such as dried zucchini, eggplants and mushroom. The combination of foods served on Jeongwol Daeboreum is believed to bring good luck and health throughout the year.

The time-honored tradition dates back to the Unified Shilla Dynasty more than a thousand years ago and continues to this day. Hanok Village nestled at the foot of Namsan mountain in the middle of Seoul, offered a chance for people to enjoy many of the rites and culinary recipes that characterize Daeboreum.

Source: During the Daeboreum festival, marking the first full moon of the lunar year, a traditional Korean game called Gossaum (meaning Go battle) is held in Gwangju, South Jeolla Province. The Go is a loop of straw ropes tied up in a knot. The game, during which the town is divided East-West to symbolize male and female, is being held to bring about a good harvest. /Yonhap

Repeating an age-old tradition called "bureom" well-wishers also munched and crunched on peanuts and walnuts. The cracking of hard-shelled nuts and eating them on Jeongwol Daeboreum is believed to keep your face from breaking out and make your teeth stronger. People also pounded mounds of rice dough, played the traditional board game "yutnori" and took turns jumping on a "neolttwigi," an indigenous version of the western seesaw. And it wasn't just Koreans who were out having fun. "I heard a little about that talking with Koreans that today the moon is the brightest and that it's a special holiday here in Korea and has lots of cultural significance," said one foreigner.

In another part of Seoul called Insa-dong, foreigners learned to make Korean kites or "yeon" and had a chance to fly them. From the traditional bangpae yeon to gaori yeon, modeled after a shield and a stingray, Korean kites adorned the sky.

The highlight of Jeongwol Daeboreum, however, is in the evening. People light up the full-moon-lit sky by burning Daljib or "Moon House," made with wooden twigs wrapped with handwritten letters of wishes. And finally, the Daljib is set ablaze as people make wishes to the moon.

Nutty Customs for Daeboreum: the markets are full of foodstuffs associated with the festival such as peanuts, walnuts, red beans, millet and wild vegetables. The signature dish for the festival, which falls this Thursday, is ogok-bap or five different kinds of grain -- rice, Italian millet, Indian millet, red beans and beans.

Choi Myung-lim, a curator at the National Folk Museum of Korea, says some farmers include any crop they grow, since that augurs well for a good harvest of it. People shared ogok-bap with neighbors because they believed that eating the ogok-bap of more than three households would bring them luck throughout a year. According to the Korean Almanac, a book on the changing seasons and customs of Korea, ogok-bap also has a healing effect for children. If their skin turns dark and they lose weight in spring affected by the change of the season, having them share ogok-bap gathered from 100 homes in the neighborhood with a dog will solve the problem -- child and dog should sit face to face and take turns having a spoonful of the dish.

A special gift set of various kinds of nuts and grain for Daeboreum or the first full moon of the new lunar year. Koreans eat nuts or bureum and rice mixed with five different kinds of grain or ogok-bap at the festival, in the belief that it brings health and a good harvest.

After they eat their ogok-bap in the morning, people give it to cattle together with wild vegetables. At that time, it is said, if the cattle eat the ogok-bap first, it will be a fat year, and if the cows eat the wild vegetables first, it will be a lean year. Another saying recommends eating ogok-bap nine times a day, implying the importance of hard work.

On the morning of Daeboreum, Koreans practice bureom, the custom of cracking different kinds of nuts such as chestnuts, walnuts, gingko nuts, pine nuts and peanuts. What significance does this custom have? Koreans in old times believed that cracking as many nuts as their age in the morning of Daeboreum prevented them from suffering skin trouble like boils and gave them good teeth. Cho Hoo-jong, a former professor of the Department of Food and Nutrition at Myongji University, said people in the old days practiced the custom to supplement the vitamins and minerals that had been lacking during winter when fresh vegetables and fruit were not available.

Source: Wikipedia
The Chosun Ilbo

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