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KimMyungja

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KimMyungja

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Hwajeon Nori

A custom having a picnic on a mountain or field while cooking hwajeon on the 3rd of the third month of the lunar calendar. In some regions, women picked azalea flowers to decorate the hwajeon (flower rice pancakes), hence the name Hwajeon Nori. Hwajeon Nori is also referred to as Hwaryu Nori, however, the former later became the official name. In particular, women in Gyeongsang-do Province also wrote lyrics and played the janggu, as well as cooked hwajeon in order to enjoy themselves. Hwajeonga,

Korean Folk Arts

October Rite

Sangdal gosa (Kor. 상달고사, Chin. 上月告祀, lit. October rite) refers to the rite held in the tenth lunar month in homage to household gods. The rite is performed on a date deemed auspicious; especially favorable for the ceremony is the Day of the Horse called Oil (Kor. 오일, Chin. 午日, lit. Horse Day). All gods overseeing the safety and peace of a household are worshipped, including seongju (Kor. 성주, household guardian god), josang (Kor. 조상, Chin. 祖上, ancestor god), jowang (Kor. 조왕, Chin. 竈王, lord

Korean Seasonal Customs

Legends of Folk Customs and Their Origins

This category of legends narrates the origins of folk customs, including seasonal customs. Legends are accompanied by specific evidences that support their verity, which contribute greatly to the believability of the tales. Most narratives associated with the origins of folk customs were formed on the basis of the customs, with the legends expanding the basis of the customs. These legends are set in a specific place and region, and are supported by evidences that are not always historical but al

Korean Folk Literature

Origin of Five-Grains

The legend “Ogokbap” narrates the origin of the custom of eating steamed five grains on Jeongwoldaeboreum (Grand Full Moon), the first full moon of the year. Earliest record of this custom, which dates back to Silla, can be found in the section on “Sageumgap (The King Shoots an Arrow into the Zither Case)” in the chapter “Giyi (Records of Marvels)” of Samgyungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms). In the book, the dish is referred to as chalbap, meaning “sticky rice, ” and the term ogokbap,

Korean Folk Literature

Ritual for the birth of male children

Various rituals and practices performed to obtain a child, a male heir in particular. The practices called gijauirye were performed to have many children, male children in particular. In past Korean society, women unable to have children were treated as committing a grave sin, and it was therefore extremely important for them to perform various ritual activities believed to give them children. The term gijauirye refers to such activities as prayers and shamanic rituals called chiseong, eating or

Korean Rites of Passage

Evil forces that strike at a funeral ceremony

Sal is a term used for vile and evil forces that harm people and cause destruction. Sangmunsal refers to the sal that can strike from the funeral ceremony. If people are stricken by sangmunsal, they fall ill or even die suddenly. To prevent this, people sprinkle a mix of red pepper powder and salt in front of their gates to keep out impurities after visiting a funeral. Any object from the mourning house is forbidden inside the home if possible. Those who are very sensitive never eat food at a fu

Korean Rites of Passage

Ancestral rites held on holidays

An ancestral rite held in the daytime on major holidays or seasonal festive occasions in honor of the four latest generations of ancestors. Charye (차례, 茶禮) is an ancestral rite held on holidays or certain days that mark the change of seasons. Today, it is not common to observe memorial rites on days that mark the changing of seasons and charye rites held on Seol, or the first day of the first lunar month, and Chuseok (추석, 秋夕), which falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, are the o

Korean Rites of Passage

Ceremonies marking major stages in life

Ceremonies marking major transitions in the life of an individual. Korea’s gwanhonsangje (the major ceremonies in life including coming of age, weddings, funerals, and ancestral rites) were heavily influenced by Confucianism and Chinese culture. As historical records show, it can be inferred that Korea had its own ilsaenguirye even before the Three Kingdoms period but due to the influence of “Jujagarye” (朱子家禮, Family Rituals of Zhu Xi) introduced during the Goryeo Dynasty along with Neo-Confucia

Korean Rites of Passage

Shrine for Village Guardian Deity

Seonangdang is a term that refers to a shrine for village guardian deity, located at the entrance of the village, on a hillside or hilltop, or the foot of a mountain, in the form of a stone stack altar, some with a tree as well, or in the form of a shrine house. In some regions seonangdang is called cheonwangdang. Shrines that take the form of a stone stack altar or a tree (dangmok, or village guardian tree), are called guksudang or guksidang. Today, not many seonangdang in the form of a stone s

Korean Folk Beliefs

Ritual for Land Tutelary God

Teojugosa is a ritual for worshipping the land tutelary god Teoju and praying for peace in the home. Variations of this term include teojuje and teotgosa. Teoju is a deity that oversees the grounds of a house, and also brings prosperity while keeping away bad fortune. This deity is worshipped in the form of the sacred entity teojutgari, placed in the backyard or by the sauce jar terrace. Teojutgari is an earthenware jar filled with rice grains, covered with a lid and draped with a conical straw

Korean Folk Beliefs

Goddess of Childbearing

Samsin is the goddess of childbearing, a shamanic deity and household god that oversees the birth and growth of children. It is believed that humans are born with the blessing of Samsin, and their lifespan is determined by Chilseong (Seven Stars). Samsin is also called Grandmother Samsin, Grandfather Samsin, Grandmother Sejun or Grandmother Jiang, Jiang and Sejun referring to Jewang and Sejon, respectively, both deities originated from Buddhism and related to the god of childbirth Jeseok. The or

Korean Folk Beliefs

Water Festival of the Sixth Lunar Month

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). P

Korean Seasonal Customs

Chuseokbim

New clothes worn to celebrate Chuseok. There are few extant historic documents showing exactly when the practice of wearing chuseokbim started. Collected works of scholars in the past mainly feature prose and verse dealing with the full moon of Chuseok and later focused on the dance ganggangsullae, where beautifully dressed-up women danced in a circle. The term chuseokbim in reference to new clothes worn at Chuseok seems to have begun when Korea became a modern state. A record mentioning Chuseo

Korean Clothing

Seolbim

New clothes prepared for lunar New Year’s Day (Seollal). The exact history of how seolbim came to be worn is not known. Records regarding seasonal customs in the late Joseon Dynasty mention seolbim. Gyeongdo japji (Kor. 경도잡지, Chin. 京都雜志, Eng. Miscellaneous Records of the Capital Hanyang) written by Yu Deuk-gong (1748-1807) says, “All males and females wear new clothes and this is called sejang.” Yeolyang sesigi (Kor. 열양세시기, Chin. 洌陽歲時記, Eng. Seasonal Festive Customs in the Capital) by Kim Maesu

Korean Clothing

Gate God

Munsin, or Gate God, is a deity that invites in good fortune or keeps away evil spirits or impurities that can enter through the gate of a home. Munsin is not embodied by a specific sacred entity. On Jeju Island, however, the wooden pillars (jeongjumok) and ribs (jeongsal) that comprise the island’ s distinctive makeshift gates are believed to embody the god that is called Munjeonsin (God Outside the Gate). The practical function of this gate is to keep out cattle, and they are installed not onl

Korean Folk Beliefs

Treading the Roof Tiles

Giwa bapgi (Kor. 기와밟기, lit. treading the roof tiles) is a folk game, performed along with the ganggang sulae (Kor. 강강술래, ring dance) in the southwestern regions of Korea or as a separate event in Uiseong and Gunwi (North Gyeongsang Province) and Jeongeup, Imsil and Gochang (North Jeolla Province). Giwa bapgi is always held during the Great Full Moon Festival (the fifteenth of the first lunar month). The custom is also known as jiae bapgi (Kor. 지애밟기), jiwa bapgi (Kor. 지와밟기), jine bapgi (Kor. 지네밟기

Korean Seasonal Customs

Cheollyeop

A folk game catching fish in creeks, mostly enjoyed by men in summer. Cheollyeop was enjoyed during the spring or autumn, however was mostly enjoyed in the summer, including the three stages of bongnal (“dog days” of summer). The game was also about having fun in the water and was enjoyed as a way of getting the most out of the summer season. Takjok was a way of avoiding the summer heat by the waterside among male adults. The people enjoyed Takjok would place their feet in running water by the r

Korean Folk Arts

Outhouse Deity

Cheuksin is a goddess believed to reside in the outhouse. The deity is known to be fierce and hostile. Since old-fashioned outhouses were dark and dank, incidents related to outhouses were considered as attacks from evil forces, resulting in a curse (sal). This was why in the past, when one fell into the waste at the outhouse, or into a compost box or pile, a simple ritual was called for, with an offering of fresh rice cake. Cheuksingaksi, or Outhouse Deity Maiden, has long hair, and when someon

Korean Folk Beliefs

Harvest Festival

Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕) refers to the harvest festival celebrated on the fifteenth day (the full moon day) of the eighth lunar month. Chuseok literally means “autumn evening,” and may be understood to mean the “autumn evening with the brightest moon.” This holiday is also known as Gabae (Kor. 가배, Chin. 嘉俳), Gabaeil (Kor. 가배일, Chin. 嘉俳日), Gawi (Kor. 가위), Hangawi (Kor. 한가위), Jungchu (Kor. 중추, Chin. 仲秋), Jungchujeol (Kor. 중추절, Chin. 仲秋節) or Jungchugajeol (Kor. 중추가절, Chin. 仲秋佳節). While Gawi and

Korean Seasonal Customs

Assembly of Village Representatives

Daedonghoe is a group of village dignitaries and other representatives formed prior to a village tutelary ritual, or dong je, to discuss and decide the details of the ceremonies. Daedonghoe also refers to the meeting of this group, an important part of the village ritual, usually held on the morning after the ceremonies, with discussions taking place on issues of collective interest or action or social cooperation, regarding all areas of communal life including appointment of community officers,

Korean Folk Beliefs

Shrine for Village Gods

Guksadang is a shrine for village gods that protect a community. Guksa, guksu, guksi are all words for “deity” and gusu means “mountain of the gods.” Guksadang, therefore, are generally located on mountaintops around the country, and also signify a “landing place for Cheonsin (Celestial God).” Variations of the term include guksudang and guksidang. One of the few that still serve as a communal shrine today is the Mt. Inwang Guksadang in Seoul’s Jongno district. Along the mid-western coast, guksa

Korean Folk Beliefs

Shrine for Mountain God

Sansindang is the term for village shrines for Sansin (Mountain God), located on the hillside or at the foot of the guardian mountain behind the village. Alternate terms for mountain god shrines include sanjedang, sansingak, and sallyeonggak. When a mountain is believed to be sacred, its spirit is worshipped as a deity. A shrine that is located in the village and not in the mountains but dedicated to a mountain god is also called sansindang. The deity enshrined in sansindang can be male or femal

Korean Folk Beliefs

Lunar New Year

Seol (Kor. 설), or the Korean New Year, is the most important traditional holiday in Korea. On this day, Koreans celebrate the beginning of the year by the lunar calendar. Seol is known by many other names, including Wonil (Kor. 원일, Chin. 元日, lit. The First Day), Wondan (Kor. 원단, Chin. 元旦, lit. The First Morning), Wonjeong (Kor. 원정, Chin. 元正, lit. The First Month), Wonsin (Kor. 원신, Chin. 元新, lit. The First New), Wonjo (Kor. 원조, Chin. 元朝, lit. The First Morning), Jeongjo (Kor. 정조, Chin. 正朝, lit. T

Korean Seasonal Customs

The First Rainfall of the Year

The second of the twenty-four solar terms, Usu (Kor. 우수, Chin. 雨水, lit. rain water) happens 15 days after Ipchun (Kor. 입춘, Chin. 立春, Beginning of Spring) and is followed by Gyeongchip (Kor. 경칩, Chin, 驚蟄, Day of Awakening from Hybernation). Usu occurs on February nineteenth or twentieth on the Gregorian calendar when the Ecliptic rises at a 33° angle. Usu falls usually within the first month of the year on the lunar calendar, which is also the first month of spring. The literal meaning of the nam

Korean Seasonal Customs
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