Water Festival of the Sixth Lunar Month(流頭)

Headword

유두 ( 流頭 , Yudu )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Summer > 6th Lunar month > Seasonal Holidays

Writer KimMyungja(金明子)

Yudu (Kor. 유두, Chin. 流頭) is a traditional summer festival that falls on the fifteenth of the sixth lunar month. The festival is also referred to as Sodu (Kor. 소두, Chin. 梳頭) or Sudu (Kor. 수두, Chin. 水頭) and the names are all related with the customs of washing one’s hair and taking a bath.

The term Yudu, which literally means "immersing head in flowing [water]", is an abbreviation of dongnyu sudu mogyok (Kor. 동류수두목욕, Chin. 東流水頭沐浴, lit. washing hair and body in waters flowing eastward). People chose waters running towards the east because that direction stands for blue (a symbol of youth and activity) and is also the direction of positive (yang) energy. Yudu is known to have been celebrated as a festival since the time of the Silla Kingdom (BCE 57 - CE 935).

Along with washing one’s hair in water running eastwards, customs observed on this day included exorcisms, eating special foods and playing festival games. Koreans went to the mountains and bathed under a waterfall or washed their hair in a natural spring in the belief that it would keep them free from skin disease. They also offered mountain and river gods specially cooked rice known as me (Kor. 메, rice) in nogu (Kor. 노구, brass pot).

Some families held an ancestral worship service on Yudu, during which they offered to the spirits the newly harvested fruits including melon and watermelon, noodles, and pancakes made of newly harvested wheat. Rituals for the dragon god and the god of agriculture took place in the rice paddies and fields. The offerings for these rituals usually consisted of red bean soup or a steamed layered rice cake covered with mashed red beans. Thunder on Yudu was believed to indicate that there would be an early frost that year.

According to the “Dongguk Sesigi” (Kor. 동국세시기, Chin. 東國歲時記, A Record of Seasonal Customs in Korea, 1849), festival foods consumed on Yudu included sudan, geondan, yeonbyeong, sanghwabyeong and sugyowi. Sudan (Kor. 수단, Chin. 水團, lit. water ball) refers to balls of cooked rice put in a chilled honey punch whereas geondan (Kor. 건단, Chin. 乾團, lit. dry ball) are rice balls served without punch. Sanghwabyeong (Kor. 상화병, Chin. 霜花餠, lit. frosty flower cake) is a steamed dumpling cooked by wrapping crushed and honeyed beans or sesame seeds into a piece of dough. Yeonbyeong (Kor. 연병, Chin. 連餠, assorted pancakes) contain fillings made from honeyed beans and sesame seeds. Sugyowi (Kor. 수교위, Chin. 水角兒) are balls of minced and seasoned meat mixed with bits of cucumbers or mushrooms wrapped in dough. Many families also consumed noodles on Yudu because they believed that this would help them cope better with the summer heat and live a healthier and longer life.

Water Festival of the Sixth Lunar Month

Water Festival of the Sixth Lunar Month
Headword

유두 ( 流頭 , Yudu )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Summer > 6th Lunar month > Seasonal Holidays

Writer KimMyungja(金明子)

Yudu (Kor. 유두, Chin. 流頭) is a traditional summer festival that falls on the fifteenth of the sixth lunar month. The festival is also referred to as Sodu (Kor. 소두, Chin. 梳頭) or Sudu (Kor. 수두, Chin. 水頭) and the names are all related with the customs of washing one’s hair and taking a bath.

The term Yudu, which literally means "immersing head in flowing [water]", is an abbreviation of dongnyu sudu mogyok (Kor. 동류수두목욕, Chin. 東流水頭沐浴, lit. washing hair and body in waters flowing eastward). People chose waters running towards the east because that direction stands for blue (a symbol of youth and activity) and is also the direction of positive (yang) energy. Yudu is known to have been celebrated as a festival since the time of the Silla Kingdom (BCE 57 - CE 935).

Along with washing one’s hair in water running eastwards, customs observed on this day included exorcisms, eating special foods and playing festival games. Koreans went to the mountains and bathed under a waterfall or washed their hair in a natural spring in the belief that it would keep them free from skin disease. They also offered mountain and river gods specially cooked rice known as me (Kor. 메, rice) in nogu (Kor. 노구, brass pot).

Some families held an ancestral worship service on Yudu, during which they offered to the spirits the newly harvested fruits including melon and watermelon, noodles, and pancakes made of newly harvested wheat. Rituals for the dragon god and the god of agriculture took place in the rice paddies and fields. The offerings for these rituals usually consisted of red bean soup or a steamed layered rice cake covered with mashed red beans. Thunder on Yudu was believed to indicate that there would be an early frost that year.

According to the “Dongguk Sesigi” (Kor. 동국세시기, Chin. 東國歲時記, A Record of Seasonal Customs in Korea, 1849), festival foods consumed on Yudu included sudan, geondan, yeonbyeong, sanghwabyeong and sugyowi. Sudan (Kor. 수단, Chin. 水團, lit. water ball) refers to balls of cooked rice put in a chilled honey punch whereas geondan (Kor. 건단, Chin. 乾團, lit. dry ball) are rice balls served without punch. Sanghwabyeong (Kor. 상화병, Chin. 霜花餠, lit. frosty flower cake) is a steamed dumpling cooked by wrapping crushed and honeyed beans or sesame seeds into a piece of dough. Yeonbyeong (Kor. 연병, Chin. 連餠, assorted pancakes) contain fillings made from honeyed beans and sesame seeds. Sugyowi (Kor. 수교위, Chin. 水角兒) are balls of minced and seasoned meat mixed with bits of cucumbers or mushrooms wrapped in dough. Many families also consumed noodles on Yudu because they believed that this would help them cope better with the summer heat and live a healthier and longer life.