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Communal New Year‘s Greetings

Dobae (Kor. 도배, Chin, 都拜, lit. communal bows) refers to the tradition of the members of a community gathering together to exchange New Year’s greetings. This communal ceremony was established to pay one’s respects to the village elders. It also serves the purpose of strengthening solidarity of the members by making New Year‘s plans for the entire community. According to Choe Geung-hui (86), a village head of Swaeun-dong in Donghae, Gangwon Province, when he was a child, the male memb

Korean Seasonal Customs

Shrine for Rain Rite

Giujedang is a shrine for holding rain rites (giuje) in times of drought. Rain rites are held inside rock caves or by ponds or springs deep in the mountains. Some wellknown giujedang where these rites have long been held include the shrine at Mt. Jinak’s Mulgul Peak in Geumsan, South Chungcheong Province; the shrine at Cheongjing Pond in the village of Samgari in Jinsan, South Chungcheong; and Dragon Pond at Handugol Valley in the village of Sangbancheolli in Samcheok, Gangwon Province. The Mulg

Korean Folk Beliefs

Dragon’s Plowing

Yonggyeong (Kor. 용경, Chin. 龍耕, lit. dragon’s plowing) is a custom observed on Dongji (Kor. 동지, Chin. 冬至, Winter Solstice) in which people tried to predict the outcome of farming for the upcoming year based on the direction and angle of cracks on the surface of a frozen pond. The custom is also known as yonggari (Kor. 용갈이) or yong-ui batgari (Kor. 용의 밭갈이), both meaning ‘plowing by the dragon.’ When ice covers a pond, there is often a crack that divides the ice sheet into two halves, as though a f

Korean Seasonal Customs

Ritual for Celestial God

Cheonje is a ritual for Cheonsin, a celestial god that has been worshipped since ancient times. Cheonsin worship deifies the sky itself or believes in the existence of a heavenly transcendental divinity. Variations of the name Cheonsin include Haneullim, Haneunim and Hananim, all meaning sky god; Chinjiwang, which is used on Jeju Island; Okwangsangje, or Pure August Jade Emperor, the name of the highest Taoist deity and ruler of the heavens; and Jeseokcheon, which originated from Buddhism. Celes

Korean Folk Beliefs

Altar for Celestial God Worship Ritual

Cheonjedan is the altar for celestial god worship rituals (cheonje). It is generally located on the summit or at the foot of a mountain, and built without a roof structure, on the grounds bordered with a circle of rocks and the altar to one side. Mt. Taebaek Cheonjedan, on the mountain’s summit, is a large-scale ancient altar constructed of natural rocks. In Joseon (1391-1910) and under Japanese occupation in the first half of the 20th century, the altar was also called Taebaekcheonwangdang (Shr

Korean Folk Beliefs

Shrine for Village Deity Seonghwang

Seonghwangsa is the shrine for worshipping the village deity Seonghwang, serving as the venue for village rites and shamanic rituals. Seonghwangsa was a state shrine that was built on major mountains around the country, starting in late Goryeo (918-1392). In Joseon (1392-1910), provincial officials continued to officiate rituals at these shrines, but eventually villagers took over the rituals. One of the few seonghwangsa from history that still remain include one at Daegwallyeong, a mountain pas

Korean Folk Beliefs
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