Erecting the Grain Pole
Byeotgaritdae (Kor. 볏가릿대, lit. grain pole) is a long pole with bags containing various grains such as rice, barley, millet and beans attached to its top. It is erected at a well, courtyard, or a cow shed during the Great Full Moon Festival (Jeongwol Daeboreum, Kor. 정월대보름) as a form of prayer for a good harvest. Widely interpreted as a symbol of Ujumok (Kor. 우주목, Chin. 宇宙木, lit. Tree of the Universe), the pole can also be referred to with words of Chinese origin, such as hwagan (Kor, 화간, Chin. 禾竿), hwajeok (Kor. 화적, Chin. 禾積) and dogan (Kor. 도간, Chin. 稻竿), which mean "the pole/pile of grain/rice". These words suggest the desire to have harvested grains reach the height of the pole. The pole is erected on the fourteenth of fifteenth of the first lunar month and takes a variety of forms depending on the region.
The grain pole is usually lowered on the first day of the second lunar month, which is often called the “Servant’s Day” because it is the last chance for people to have fun before the beginning of the farming season. On that day the richer landowners of the village provided an abundance of festive foods and drinks to their servants and tenants and allowed them to relax and enjoy themselves. The occasion of lowering the grain pole typically involved a larger celebration than that of erecting it. The ceremony starts with untying the three ropes that kept the pole standing and slowly pushing the pole down. Then the villagers try to predict the harvest by checking the condition of grains in the bags attached to the pole. The farmers believed that the year would yield a good harvest if the grains sprouted and a poor harvest if they did not.