Bridge-Walking(踏桥)

Bridge-Walking

Headword

다리밟기 ( 踏桥 , Dari Bapgi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > January > 1st Lunarmonth > Seasonal Holidays

Writer LeeByungok(李炳玉)

Dari-bapgi (Kor. 다리밟기, lit. treading on the bridge) is the custom of walking on a bridge during the night of the first full moon of the year (Great Full Moon Festival, the fifteenth of the first lunar month). It can also be referred to with the Sino-Korean word ‘dapgyo’ (Kor. 답교, Chin. 踏橋).

The custom is documented in the Jibong Yuseol (Kor. 지봉유설, Chin. 芝峯類說, Topical Discourses of Jibong) written during the reign of King Seonjo (1552-1608). In this book, bridge-walking is recorded under the name dapgyo jihui (Kor. 답교지희, Chin. 踏橋之戱, lit. game of bridge-walking) and is described as an age-old tradition dating back to the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392). The author of the book notes that, during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), some noblemen observed this custom on the fourteenth, instead of the fifteenth, in order to avoid the crowds on the bridges. For this reason bridge-walking on the eve of the first full moon of the year was called yangban dari-bapgi (Kor. 양반다리밟기, lit. noblemen’s bridge-walking). Starting from the mid-Joseon period (the 16th century), participation of women and girls in this activity became less common.

Since the sound ‘dari’ (Kor.다리) means both ‘bridge’ and ‘leg’, walking on bridges on the night of the Great Full Moon Festival was believed to keep one’s legs free of sores and all related diseases. In particular, crossing twelve bridges ensured that all twelve months of the year were safe from disease. Hence, everyone in the country, regardless of their social status, sex and age, rushed to nearby bridges when night fell on the fifteenth of the first lunar month. The custom was practiced nationwide, although the exact manner in which it was done varied depending on region.

A similar custom was popular in China, but when this custom reached the Korean Peninsula, the homophony in the Korean language between the word dari, meaning ‘bridge,’ and dari, meaning ‘leg’ resulted in association with healthy legs. Belief in the magic power of words enhanced the custom with the characteristics of a healing ritual and it quickly acquired an important position among the other folk customs related to longevity and health. Regional traditions and differences in the shape of bridges led to the development of a variety of ways to cross the bridge, resulting in occasions for different games. The custom, thus, became a part of Korean entertainment culture.

Bridge-Walking

Bridge-Walking
Headword

다리밟기 ( 踏桥 , Dari Bapgi )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > January > 1st Lunarmonth > Seasonal Holidays

Writer LeeByungok(李炳玉)

Dari-bapgi (Kor. 다리밟기, lit. treading on the bridge) is the custom of walking on a bridge during the night of the first full moon of the year (Great Full Moon Festival, the fifteenth of the first lunar month). It can also be referred to with the Sino-Korean word ‘dapgyo’ (Kor. 답교, Chin. 踏橋).

The custom is documented in the Jibong Yuseol (Kor. 지봉유설, Chin. 芝峯類說, Topical Discourses of Jibong) written during the reign of King Seonjo (1552-1608). In this book, bridge-walking is recorded under the name dapgyo jihui (Kor. 답교지희, Chin. 踏橋之戱, lit. game of bridge-walking) and is described as an age-old tradition dating back to the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392). The author of the book notes that, during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), some noblemen observed this custom on the fourteenth, instead of the fifteenth, in order to avoid the crowds on the bridges. For this reason bridge-walking on the eve of the first full moon of the year was called yangban dari-bapgi (Kor. 양반다리밟기, lit. noblemen’s bridge-walking). Starting from the mid-Joseon period (the 16th century), participation of women and girls in this activity became less common.

Since the sound ‘dari’ (Kor.다리) means both ‘bridge’ and ‘leg’, walking on bridges on the night of the Great Full Moon Festival was believed to keep one’s legs free of sores and all related diseases. In particular, crossing twelve bridges ensured that all twelve months of the year were safe from disease. Hence, everyone in the country, regardless of their social status, sex and age, rushed to nearby bridges when night fell on the fifteenth of the first lunar month. The custom was practiced nationwide, although the exact manner in which it was done varied depending on region.

A similar custom was popular in China, but when this custom reached the Korean Peninsula, the homophony in the Korean language between the word dari, meaning ‘bridge,’ and dari, meaning ‘leg’ resulted in association with healthy legs. Belief in the magic power of words enhanced the custom with the characteristics of a healing ritual and it quickly acquired an important position among the other folk customs related to longevity and health. Regional traditions and differences in the shape of bridges led to the development of a variety of ways to cross the bridge, resulting in occasions for different games. The custom, thus, became a part of Korean entertainment culture.