Monday, May 5, 2014

Asian Spring Festival: South Korea


Around the world spring and summer months are packed with festivals and fairs that keep traditional folklore – food, dance, art – alive. One of the most prestigious of the Asian festivals is the Dano Spring Festival. South Korean refer to it as the “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. 
Dano falls on the 5th day of May in the Korean lunar calendar and despite the festive fun and games of it all, was created to ward off evil spirits believed to cause bad harvests and illness. Superstitions related to the festival include women washing their hair in iris-infused water and men wearing iris roots around their waist, among other activities.
Throughout the celebration, everyone enjoys traditional games, rituals, and foods of South Korea’s colorful culture. One of the most popular games is Ssireum-a folk style wrestling match where the winner gets a bull. A little better than your average gold medal, right?
 Ssireum embodies the spirit of the Korean people because it combines the test of physical strength with the ability to keep balanced. Other games include  Jeh Gi Cha Gi (shuttlecook), Jool Dah Li Gi (tug-of-war), and Tae Kwon Do.
Traditionally, men focus on displays of physical strength and women’s events highlight their ‘feminine’ nature because this is the prime day to fall in love. South Koreans believe that the lunar 5th of May is when all the energies of the universe harmonize into one. There are other important lunar days throughout the year like January 1st, February 2nd, and March 3rd, but this festival is the most widely celebrated.
 Every culture enjoys special days where traditions are shared.   This is at the heart of folklore.

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