Folk Holiday—Jongwoldaeborum


Jongwoldaeborum is one of the folk holidays celebrated by the Korean people from olden times. It covers the 14th and 15th of the lunar January, the former called Minor Full-Moon Festival and the latter Major Full-Moon Festival.

According to the old document Samguksagi (Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms) the Korean nation has long celebrated the day while eating yakbap (boiled glutinous rice mixed with sugar, dates, chestnuts, pine-nuts, sesame oil, etc.).

Koreans organised various functions on the occasion wishing for luck and a bumper harvest in the New Year. Typical were erecting a pole for grain stack, enjoying the view of the rising full moon, and carrying manure out to the fields. On the 14th they set up the pole fastened with cotton bolls and ears of different grains to depict a bumper rice stack, and children turned around it, singing and dancing. And adults carried manure out to the paddy and dry fields early in the morning.

Such custom started from the working life of the Korean nation who regarded farming as the basis of everything.

The most impressive of the functions was to enjoy the view of the rising full moon. On the evening of the 15th people went outside to enjoy the full moon. It was believed that the person who was the first to see the rising full moon would enjoy good luck that year, so people let young persons stand in front of them to see the full moon. And they would tell their hopes as they believed that if they did so their hopes would come true.

There was a custom of cooking ogokbap, yakbap, and a dish prepared with nine kinds of dried wild greens to share them with neighbours. Koreans cooked and ate ogokbap (boiled rice admixed with glutinous millet. millet, barley and red beans) out of not only their confidence that the five grains are good for human health but also their desire for a bumper harvest and the five blessings (longevity, wealth, health, blessing of children and peaceful death) in the New Year as well.

On the morning of Jongwoldaeborum people used to eat dishes cooked with nine kinds of dried wild greens including boletus, leaves of chillies, bracken, aralia shoots and broad bellflower as it was said that if one ate such dishes that morning, one would not suffer from illness that year. Yakbap, as one of the typical foods of the day, is steamed glutinous rice mixed with honey, sesame oil, chestnuts, dates and pine-nuts, and it is also called yaksik (medicinal food).

Various folk games took place on the day such as a tug-of-war, kite-flying and pinwheel play. According to the historical data the tug-of-war, the most exciting game in the festival, took place between children in early January by the lunar calendar and then between villages and between regions. Furthermore, a rope long enough to be grasped by all villagers was used to compete in collective strength.

Customs of Jongwoldaeborum reflect the noble and beautiful moral traits of the resourceful and diligent Korean nation.

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