Beakjung Cattle Festival
Baekjungje (Kor. 백중제, Chin. 百中祭) is the name of a traditional folk festival that takes place across Jeju Island on the day of Baekjung (Kor. 백중, Chin. 百中, Buddhist All Soul’s Day, fifteenth of the seventh lunar month). The festival is organized by the livestock farmers and cattle herders, and the goal is to pray for the safety, health and fertility of horses, cows and pigs. Baekjungje is also known as Teurikoseo (Kor. 테우리코서) and Swemengjil (Kor. 쉐멩질).
Cows, horses and pigs are the three most important livestock species raised by the farmers on Jeju Island. While pigs are raised at home, cows and horses graze at a village pasture and are tended jointly by the community. Some farmers let the animals graze at the communal pasture all year round while others use the pasture from the fourth lunar month until the late autumn, tending the animals at home during the winter season. Like tending the animals, the Baekjungje festival was also planned and managed via close cooperation between villagers engaged in livestock farming.
The festival usually starts with a sacrificial rite, which is performed both communally and individually. In the past, the rite organized in the village of Dongcheonjin-dong on Udo Island, Jeju Province was particularly famous for its grandeur. As the festival neared, the livestock farmers in the village raised money and cooked ample amounts of food, including pork and chicken, for the entire community. Each family also prepared food offerings for their guardian deities and conducted a rite at a site called Seommeori (Kor. 섬머리, lit. Island’s Head) located near the village’s pasture.