Burning the Moon House(烧月亮屋)

Burning the Moon House

Headword

달집태우기 ( 烧月亮屋 , Daljip Taeugi )

Location of the encyclopedia

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

Writer KangSungbok(姜成福)

Daljip taeugi (Kor. 달집태우기, lit. burning the Moon House) was a festive folk custom celebrating the Great Full Moon Festival, which fell on the fifteenth of the first lunar month. During this festival, participants built daljip (Kor. 달집, lit. moon house), a large bonfire structure, with fresh branches of a pine tree and other logs, and set it on fire with the rise of the full moon, praying for fortune and prevention from evil. The custom is referred to by different names according to the region, which include daljipbul (Kor. 달집불, lit. moon house fire), dalbulnori (Kor. 달불놀이, lit. moon fire play), dalkkeusilleugi (Kor. 달끄실르기, lit. burning the moon), manguribul (Kor. 망우리불/망울이불, lit. full moon fire), dalmanguri (Kor, 달망우리, lit. moon burning), mangwol (Kor. 망월, Chin. 望月, lit. full moon) and donghwa (Kor. 동화, Chin. 洞火, lit. village fire). Observed all around Korea, but especially popular in the mountainous areas in the southern part of the peninsula, it was originally part of religious rituals that were closely related to welcoming the first full moon of the year and praying for a good harvest.

As the first full moon approached, the ritual started with the young male members of a community gathering fresh pine logs and branches for the Moon House. In some villages firewood and straw for the event were collected by farmers’ music bands who visited each house at the beginning of the year, performed for the families and prayed to their earth gods. In such cases wood was not collected from households in mourning or where a new baby was born as these households were considered impure. Then the villagers built the Moon House on a hill or an open space at the village entrance, so that all could see the rising full moon clearly. At sunset members of a community gathered around the Moon House, and, as the moon started to rise, shouted: "It’s the moon fire! It’s the moon fire! Let’s scorch the moon!" or "Oh, Moon, let me have a son, let me have a daughter, a grandson!" They then proceeded to set the structure on fire. Soon thereafter, they circled the bonfire to the accompaniment of music played by a farmers’ band and prayed for escaping misfortune.

There are a number of divination practices associated with the ritual. For example, the person who saw the rising moon before others on the night of the festival was supposed to receive luck throughout the entire year. Koreans also believed that the year would be prosperous for the community if the Moon House burnt well, and bad if the fire ceased in the middle or did not burn the whole structure. Farmers in Geumsan, South Chungcheong Province and Changwon and Geochang, South Gyeongsang Province regarded it as auspicious if the smoke from the Moon House was thick enough to cover the moon.

The direction in which the Moon House fell was also important. Villagers in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province believed that the year would bring a good harvest if the Moon House collapsed to the east and a bad one if it fell to the west. For the people in Jangsu (North Jeolla Province), Eulju (South Gyeongsang Province) and Suncheon (South Jeolla Province), if the structure fell in the direction of the village, it was an auspicious sign, while falling in the opposite direction meant bad fortune. On the other hand, in the areas of Cheongyang and Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province, the same process signified exactly the opposite: for the community to prosper, the bonfire had to collapse in the direction away from the village. Consequently, young people in those villages tried to push the structure away from the village side in the belief that the dying fire would take with it all the evil forces that could harm their hometown. According to another folk custom, people ate beans roasted on the ashes of the bonfire in order to have healthy teeth and prevent skin disease. In North Jeolla Province, mothers would dress their children in paper beneath their clothes on the morning of the Great Full Moon Day and later would burn those paper clothes in the Moon House fire. They believed that it would protect their children from evil for a whole year.

Burning the Moon House

Burning the Moon House
Headword

달집태우기 ( 烧月亮屋 , Daljip Taeugi )

Location of the encyclopedia

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

Writer KangSungbok(姜成福)

Daljip taeugi (Kor. 달집태우기, lit. burning the Moon House) was a festive folk custom celebrating the Great Full Moon Festival, which fell on the fifteenth of the first lunar month. During this festival, participants built daljip (Kor. 달집, lit. moon house), a large bonfire structure, with fresh branches of a pine tree and other logs, and set it on fire with the rise of the full moon, praying for fortune and prevention from evil. The custom is referred to by different names according to the region, which include daljipbul (Kor. 달집불, lit. moon house fire), dalbulnori (Kor. 달불놀이, lit. moon fire play), dalkkeusilleugi (Kor. 달끄실르기, lit. burning the moon), manguribul (Kor. 망우리불/망울이불, lit. full moon fire), dalmanguri (Kor, 달망우리, lit. moon burning), mangwol (Kor. 망월, Chin. 望月, lit. full moon) and donghwa (Kor. 동화, Chin. 洞火, lit. village fire). Observed all around Korea, but especially popular in the mountainous areas in the southern part of the peninsula, it was originally part of religious rituals that were closely related to welcoming the first full moon of the year and praying for a good harvest.

As the first full moon approached, the ritual started with the young male members of a community gathering fresh pine logs and branches for the Moon House. In some villages firewood and straw for the event were collected by farmers’ music bands who visited each house at the beginning of the year, performed for the families and prayed to their earth gods. In such cases wood was not collected from households in mourning or where a new baby was born as these households were considered impure. Then the villagers built the Moon House on a hill or an open space at the village entrance, so that all could see the rising full moon clearly. At sunset members of a community gathered around the Moon House, and, as the moon started to rise, shouted: "It’s the moon fire! It’s the moon fire! Let’s scorch the moon!" or "Oh, Moon, let me have a son, let me have a daughter, a grandson!" They then proceeded to set the structure on fire. Soon thereafter, they circled the bonfire to the accompaniment of music played by a farmers’ band and prayed for escaping misfortune.

There are a number of divination practices associated with the ritual. For example, the person who saw the rising moon before others on the night of the festival was supposed to receive luck throughout the entire year. Koreans also believed that the year would be prosperous for the community if the Moon House burnt well, and bad if the fire ceased in the middle or did not burn the whole structure. Farmers in Geumsan, South Chungcheong Province and Changwon and Geochang, South Gyeongsang Province regarded it as auspicious if the smoke from the Moon House was thick enough to cover the moon.

The direction in which the Moon House fell was also important. Villagers in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province believed that the year would bring a good harvest if the Moon House collapsed to the east and a bad one if it fell to the west. For the people in Jangsu (North Jeolla Province), Eulju (South Gyeongsang Province) and Suncheon (South Jeolla Province), if the structure fell in the direction of the village, it was an auspicious sign, while falling in the opposite direction meant bad fortune. On the other hand, in the areas of Cheongyang and Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province, the same process signified exactly the opposite: for the community to prosper, the bonfire had to collapse in the direction away from the village. Consequently, young people in those villages tried to push the structure away from the village side in the belief that the dying fire would take with it all the evil forces that could harm their hometown. According to another folk custom, people ate beans roasted on the ashes of the bonfire in order to have healthy teeth and prevent skin disease. In North Jeolla Province, mothers would dress their children in paper beneath their clothes on the morning of the Great Full Moon Day and later would burn those paper clothes in the Moon House fire. They believed that it would protect their children from evil for a whole year.