A festive custom for farmers around Baekjung, a traditional holiday related to the full moon.
Baekjung Nori is a seasonal folk custom consisting of a one-day feast around the beginning or middle of July, according to the lunar calendar, performed after all the major works of annual cultivation. During the day, the community work is completed, including cleaning the wells and the roads. All the households then prepare food and gather together to hold a party and share the food. At the beginning of the 7th lunar month, workers hold a meeting to choose a day for the Baekjung Nori. Before Baekjung, roads are cleaned and lawns are mowed. On Baekjung, the wells are cleaned first and a ritual is performed in front of them. During the cleaning, people bail water out using baskets from the outside at first. However, since wells are deep, a pure, honest person goes into the wells to ladle water out at the end. Later, the virtuous person of the village is the first to draw from the water. In the early morning of Baekjung, landlords prepare various kinds of foods, including alcohol, tteok (rice cake), and jeok (Korean shish kebab). Also, landlords often prepare a jeoksam suit (an unlined summer jacket) made of hemp. A wealthy landlord or a landlord, whose laborers work earnestly and hard, prepares a plentiful feast for the workers. After receiving the food, the workers flock to a certain place and compare the food to see which landlord offers more. Then, the workers receiving a lot of food go on to celebrate. In this regard, if workers are depressed due to a small amount of food, the landlords sometimes will present more, essentially representing the care of the landlords, as well as the diligence of the workers. The Baekjung Nori starts in the morning and lasts until sunset. The workers gather together and share the food over stories, including any complaints held against their landlords, which are rarely expressed during ordinary times. Also, they talk about the hardships of farming and their lives, raising their voices toward the end in a show of increased emotion. After a drink, they play instruments and have a party, where people play their instruments and others stand up and dance.
On the day of Baekjung, many events have been held. First of all, each household picks ripe fruit to offer to the shrines of their ancestors and eat them in a ritual called Cheonsin Charye. Also, sometimes, immature rice grains are cut to be offered to Jongmyo (the Royal Ancestral Shrine). In the farming villages, on Baekjung, landlords allow their servants to take a day of rest, and grant them some money. The servants spend the money to have a drink and buy some food and products at the market, leading to the coinage of the word Baekjungjang (the market on Baekjung). A Baekjungjang has many vendors and numerous purchases are made. Amid the joy of inebriation, farmers play farmers’ music to celebrate the day and, sometimes, have a Ssireum (Korean wrestling) match at the market. In addition, a traveling troupe of performers visits the market, creating a bustling atmosphere. This kind of Baekjung holiday is celebrated in more grand fashion in the southern part of Korea. Furthermore, a servant whose landlord gains the largest harvest during the year is chosen to ride on a cow and go around and comfort the village. This tradition is a festival following the completion of farming tasks, which is also referred to as Homissisi, Seseoyeon, or Jangwollye. In the festival, the landlords of a village offer food and drinks to pacify their workers for their efforts in farming during the year. On Jeju Island, workers have to go out to sea without a break. As it is told that larger fish are caught on Baekjung, workers often go out with a torch in the night to catch as much as they can. Moreover, there is a belief that a guardian spirit, Baekjungwasal, lives in Halla Mountain, becomes green with envy as people take all the ripe crops and fruit from the mountain around Baekjung, bringing about heavy winds. In this regard, some people perform a ritual for the mountain god as well.