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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome back to the Culture Class: Holidays in South Korea Series on KoreanClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Korean holidays and observances. I’m Brandon, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 11: Day of the First Full Moon or 정월대보름(Jeongwol Daeboreum.)
In this lesson, you’ll learn about a holiday Korean people celebrate on January 15th of the lunar calendar—the Day of the First Full Moon, or 정월대보름(Jeongwol Daeboreum.) 정월(Cheongwol) means the first month of the lunar year, and 대보름(Daeboreum) means "big full moon." So, 정월대보름(Jeongwol Daeboreum) means something like "the day the first big full moon rises."
Before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: why does Korea, along with the rest of East Asia, think that the day of the full moon is important?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On the Day of the First Full Moon, the night sky is brighter because of the big moon. Many villagers gather and enjoy festivities underneath the bright moonlight.
The first event is 달맞이(Dalmaji). 맞이(Maji) is a word from the verb 맞이하다(Majihada) meaning "to welcome." For 달맞이(Dalmaji), all the villagers gather outside to see the moonlight. It's said they can predict the year of farming ahead by the moonlight. People believe that if the light is bright, then the year will be plentiful, and if the light is dim, then it will be a rainy season.
After predicting how the farming will be for the next year, they will play 쥐불놀이(Jwibul-nori.) 쥐불놀이(Jwibul-nori) or "small fire play" is playing with fire, as it literally says. When playing 쥐불놀이(Jwibul-nori), people put straw into cans and set fire to them; then they spin the cans around and around. After spinning the cans, they throw them into fields with weeds. The weeds then catch fire and become fertilizer for the spring farming.
A very special food is eaten only on the Day of the First Full Moon. It's called 오곡밥(Ogokbap.) Five kinds of ingredients, or 오곡(Ogok), such as rice, beans, barley, sorghum, and millet are put together to make 오곡밥(ogokbap,) and these are eaten together with the family. Usually, people only eat three meals a day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner; however, on the Day of the First Full Moon, meals occur nine times throughout the day. They also say that eating with at least three families brings more fortune than eating alone.
Here's our fun fact for the day! Do you know how people in the city celebrate the Day of the First Full Moon? It depends, actually, on where you are, or who you happen to be with. For example, in Gyeonggi province or 경기도(Gyeonggi-do), people gather together, write their wishes on paper tied to a rope made of straw, and light the paper on fire.
Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: why is the first full moon important in Korea, as well as in East Asia? For a long time, in Korea, China, and other East Asian countries, people believed that there was a relationship between the size of the moon and their grain harvest. They believed that the moon growing larger over time was very similar to the growth of their grain in the fields; as the moon became larger, their grains would grow fatter. That's why they thought the Day of the Full Moon was very important.
How was this lesson? Did you learn a lot of interesting things?
Is there a festival related to the moon in your country? If so, what kind of meaning does it have?
Please leave us a comment at KoreanClass101.com.
And we'll see you next time!