Sunday, February 08, 2009

Korean Culture: Daeborum, First Full Moon Celebration

This year on Monday, February 9, 2009 tradition-minded Koreans will celebrate a special holiday commonly called Daeborum.  Actually called Jongwol Daeborum, it has been observed for over 1,000 years.

Jongwol Daeborum is the first full moon of the new lunar year.

In the past, it was thought that because the moon was full, it was a day for driving away misfortune and evil. Thus, the foods eaten and the games played on this traditional holiday have had a hidden purpose of expelling misfortune and evil.

Jongwol means the first of the month and Dae means big in Korean. Borum means round moon or full moon. (It’s pronounced as its spelled… “dae borum”).

While Lunar New Year’s Day was seen as a family-oriented day, in contrast, Jongwol Daeborum was communal. That means Koreans traditionally started a lunar year with their family and 15 days later celebrated the full moon at a community level. Jongwol Daeborum, then, is a day filled with folk games, customs, and rituals.

Nowadays, the celebration is not nearly as significant as the Fall Harvest Holiday (Chuseok) or the Lunar New Years (Seol). In fact, with the demands of a highly urban global society it is often forgotten. Nevertheless in Korea, most cultural centers have special events. In fact, my friends who live in Seoul will enjoy the festival activities with their children.

You may want to wish Korean colleagues a Happy Daeborum…I’m sure they will be pleased and surprised.

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