The Lunar New Year may have already begun, but that doesn’t mean the celebrations have finished yet! On the fifteenth day of the new lunar calendar, which is today, Daeboreum/대보름 is celebrated. Daeboreum literally means ‘Great Full Moon’, and is a day where many different fun and festive activities take place to celebrate the first full moon of the lunar new year.
Starting off at breakfast, it’s believed that cracking a bureom/부럼 shell, which are nuts like walnuts, chestnut or peanuts, with your teeth will keep your teeth healthy for the year and help keep allergies at bay. Also in the morning, make sure you have some gwibalgisul/귀밝이술! Gwibalgisul is a drink made up of cheongju, which is a rice wine, and if you drink it on Daeboreum you’ll hear good news all year round and keep your ears healthy too (to hear all that good news!). Continuing on with food and Daeboreum, ogokbap/오곡밥 is a traditional rice dish that is eaten on this day. Ogokbap is made using five grains – rice, millet, barley, beans and Foxtail millet. A recipe can be found here if you fancy trying to make it yourself to join in with the Daeboreum festivities. It’s also usual to eat an assortment of nine different dried and fresh vegetables known as mugeunnamul/무근나물. These vegetables include pumpkin and the stem of sweet potatoes. These vegetables are eaten as a side dish to the ogokbap and eating mugeunnamul is a tradition that people used to do to wish for a good vegetable harvest that year.
Daeboreum has many unique and fun traditions, it sounds like a pretty busy day in South Korea! One of these traditions is called bridge stepping/다리 밟기. Dari (다리) means both leg and bridge and on Daeboreum, if you cross a bridge as many times as your age, it’s meant to keep you healthy for the year and help you avoid sickness. Another fun thing you can do is to “sell your hot days” to friends. What on earth are we talking about? Deowipalgi/더위팔기! This a fun and rather unique tradition that involves shouting out your friends’ names before sunrise. If they answer, you then ask them to buy your hot days by saying “nae deowi ta sagara!”/”내 더위 다 사가라!”. That person, being a friend, should say yes and then take away all the heat you’ll expect to experience that Summer. A great way for those who want to avoid the sticky uncomfortable Summer heat, for that one week intense heat wave we experience every year in the UK, maybe it’s not such a problem for us… Check out the video below to see Super Junior trying to get rid of some heat. Also, those haircuts!
There’s also several activities you can do in the evening of Daeboreum. For adults, the making of a moon house/달집 is one of the big events. A moon house is made up of haystacks with a ‘door’ to the east for the moon to enter when it rises. On these haystacks, people also attach written wishes for the year. These haystacks are then set on fire, hopefully making attached wishes come true and the way in which the moon house burns is also believed to foretell how the year’s crops turn out. If the house burns steadily and doesn’t fall apart, there’ll be a good harvest, but if it falls apart or blows away, the harvests will be bad. Jwibulnori/쥐불놀이 is a tradition where the children can get involved too. Children are given cans filled with coal then attached to a lead. The children can then whirl these burning cans around and set fire to fields… Practically speaking this was suppose to get rid of insects and vermin, it looks very fun, if not slightly dangerous, and we’re not sure how practical it actually was…
One of our favourite traditions of this festival, and something that we can all take part in, is waiting for the first full moon of the Lunar New Year to rise. When you see it, you can then make a wish! To wish upon the moon, or dalnimege sowoneul bileoyo/달님에게 소원을 빌어요, is a lovely and effortless tradition to take part in! Gotta get those wishes in while we can!
So wishing you all a happy Daeboreum! Have fun with the first full moon of the Lunar New Year! But be careful biting down on those nut shells and please don’t set fire to any fields :P