Many of us enjoy learning about the culture and traditions of Korea amid an ever-changing society. This week, on February 19, Daeboreum is observed, celebrating the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. BTW, historic mentions of Daeboreum date back to the 1200s. Daeboreum (대보름) literally means “great full moon”.
As a cultural observance, Daeboreum is accompanied by tradition, rituals, and foods. As with all cultures, some practices remain more common than others…and there are often variations. That said, in recent years festivals have sought to preserve their traditions.
Common practices may include:
It's popular to crack nuts (usually peanuts and walnuts) with your teeth, tradition that this will keep your teeth healthy as well as other ills away for the year.
People will cross back and forth on the walk bridges in the evening, the belief that it will make your legs strong and healthy for the new year.
People will brave the cold and climb mountains to catch the first rise of the moon. It is said that the first person to see the moon rise will have good luck all year or a wish will be granted.
A rather visually striking tradition in the countryside and today at festivals is whirling burning charcoal in cans filled with holes. Bonfires today are also common in Daeboreum festivals. Both the falling charcoal embers hitting the ground and the bonfires are tied to when in the past farmers burned dry grass on the ridges between rice fields in preparation for good crops in the new year.