3 Interesting Facts About The First Full Moon of the Lunar New Year

Today, February 5th, the first full moon of the Lunar New Year comes up.

It’s a traditional holiday in Korea, called 정월 대보름 (“jeongwol daeboreum”). Although people don’t take a day off on this day, it’s still one of the holidays that many people celebrate.

On the day, Koreans

  • make a wish for the year, watching the full moon rising in the sky.
  • eat foods like nuts and five-grain rice.
  • play traditional games like 쥐불놀이 (jwibulnori).
(Drawing: Lee Moosung)

1. Koreans crack nuts with their teeth

부럼 (“bureom”) is a collection of different types of nuts, such as chestnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, and walnuts. It’s traditionally believed that cracking ants on 정월 대보름 will help strengthen teeth, avoid allergies, and bring good luck for the year.

2. Koreans set fire on rice paddies

쥐불놀이 (jwibulnori) is a traditional Korean folk game, played by setting fire on rice paddies and fields on the eve of the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. 

The purpose of the game is to reduce the damage of pests and mice by burning weeds. People put dried stems in cans with small holes, light and spin the cans, and throw them into rice paddies and fields.

3. Koreans eat five types of grains

오곡밥 (five grain rice) is rice mixed with grains, consisting of glutinous rice, black beans, red beans, and glutinous corn. In the past when food was scarce, Koreans ate 오곡밥 to prevent nutritional deficiencies during the long winter.

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