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CheonJinki

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CheonJinki

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Great Cold

Daehan (Kor. 대한, Chin. 大寒, lit. Great Cold) is the last of the twenty-four solar terms. It occurs in the end of the twelfth lunar month and is around January the twentieth on the Gregorian calendar. The sun around this time is situated at an ecliptic longitude of 300°. Winter cold intensifies progressively after Ipdong (Kor. 입동, Chin. 立冬, Onset of Winter), with temperature hitting new lows successively on Soseol (Kor. 소설, Chin. 小雪, First Snow), Daeseol (Kor. 대설, Chin. 大雪, Snow Blast), Dongji (Ko

Korean Seasonal Customs

Fishing Picnic

For cheollyeop (Kor. 천렵, Chin. 川獵, lit. stream fishing) people get together to spend all day fishing on a river. This leisure activity, which usually consisted of river bathing, fishing, and cooking fish stew was practiced in the spring and autumn, but was more popular during summer, particularly during the hottest period of Sambok (Kor. 삼복, Chin. 三伏, Three Dog Days, three hottest days in the sixth and seventh lunar months). On Ganghwa Island, for instance, villagers went to the river with fishi

Korean Seasonal Customs

Legends of Animals and Non-Living Objects

This category of legends narrates stories about real or imaginary animals and obejcts. In Korean culure, animals are portrayed as agents of divinity or sorcery, playing the role of medium between humans and gods; between the world of the living and the underworld; between the self and the universe. Tigers and dragons are the most commonly featured in folk narratives, followed by horses, cows, snakes, chickens, turtles and dogs. These tales explain the origins of an animal’s appearances or traits

Korean Folk Literature

Stealing for Fun

Historically, youngsters would steal fruits, vegetables or crops to appease their hunger. Considered a tolerable action in the past as long as their actions did not cause the farmer serious financial damage, this activity is currently regarded as a crime. Referred to as seori (Kor. 서리), this mischievous act was conducted in the summer, as an adventure to get both food and thrills. The main targets were crops, vegetables, and fruits such as wheat, barley, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant

Korean Seasonal Customs

Horse Ritual

Maje is a ritual for worshipping the horse or to prevent illness in horses, and is related to the sacred horses enshrined at village shrines as horses ridden by Sansin (Mountain God) or Seonang (Village Guardian Deity). Maje was carried out on various levels, organized by the state, the community or individual households. State-organized horse rituals date back to the kingdom of Unified Silla (676-935), as seen in records of a range of rites including majoje (horse ancestor ritual) for worshippi

Korean Folk Beliefs

Minor Cold

The twenty-third of the twenty-four solar terms, Sohan (Kor. 소한, Chin. 小寒, lit. Slight Cold), falls sometime in the twelfth lunar month. It is the first solar term occurring after the Gregorian New Year’s Day and is usually around January fifth. On this day, the sun is at an ecliptic longitude of 285°. In ancient China, the fifteen-day period between Sohan and Daehan (Kor. 대한, Chin. 大寒, lit. Great Cold) was divided into three smaller periods of five days each. The first of these periods was char

Korean Seasonal Customs

Banners of the Guardian Gods of the Five Directions

Obangsinjanggi, or the banners of the guardian gods of the five directions, is a set of banners in five colors, used for divination in shamanic rituals. These flags are made with bamboo staffs around 70 centimeters long, some as long as 100 centimeters, the banner with silk or other fabric, sometimes dyed mulberry paper. They are around 70 centimeters in width and 50 centimeters in length. The colors of the banners are associated with the five directions according to traditional cosmology: blue

Korean Folk Beliefs

Cold Dew

Hallo (Kor. 한로, Chin. 寒露, lit. Cold Dew), the seventeenth of the twenty-four solar terms, is marked by a drop in temperature, when dew is on the verge of turning into frost. On the Gregorian calendar, Hallo usually falls on October eighth or ninth, when the sun is at 195° on the ecliptic. On the lunar calendar, Hallo falls in the ninth month. At this time of year, farmers thresh grain and are busy trying to finish all harvest-related tasks before the temperature plummets further. The colors of t

Korean Seasonal Customs

Lesser Cuckoo

There are two narratives related to the bird jeopdong- sae, or the lesser cuckoo, in the Korean oral tradition: One narrates the tragic story of a maiden harassed by her stepmother, who died and became a lesser cuckoo; and the other of a man who became a lesser cuckoo when he was driven to death by his grievance of losing his bride to the king. Jeopdongsae, with its mournful cry, the sound of which is reflected on its name, is featured prominently in traditional verse to capture sentiments of so

Korean Folk Literature

Origin of Twelve Animal Signs

This legend narrates the origins of sibiji, or the twelve animal signs of the traditional zodiac—rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig—and how they were selected and arranged. A long, long time ago, the king of the heavens wished to designate official positions to animals. After considering the selection criteria, he announced that positions would be given to animals arriving first at the celestial gate on the first day of the first lunar month. Upon he

Korean Folk Literature

Twelve Zodiac Days

Sibijiil (Kor. 십이지일, Chin. 十二支日, Twelve Zodiac Days) refers to the first twelve days of the Lunar New Year that are represented by the twelve Chinese zodiac animals, i.e., rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. They can also be called Jeongcho Sibijiil (Kor. 정초십이지일, Chin. 正初十二支日, twelve zodiac days of the beginning of the year) or simply Jimseungnal (Kor. 짐승날, lit. animal days). The zodiac calendar is a separate system that does not correlate to the luna

Korean Seasonal Customs
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