March and Folk Customs

In March there are two of 24 seasonal divisions of the year: Kyongchip and Chunbun.

Kyongchip is the end of hibernation. In this period, all the hibernating animals and insects awake by the thunder with the onset of spring, the ice thawing and the rain falling.

It falls on March 5 this year.

Chunbun is the spring equinox, a day when day and night are of equal length. It means the end of winter and the start of spring.

It falls on March 20 this year.

In this season, the Koreans cleared away all the traces of winter, repairing the brushwood fences, clearing out ditches and cleaning the environment. And they ploughed the fields and planted potato, sesame, barley, pumpkin, cucumber and other crops, and balsam, tobacco and other tree seedlings.

In March, there was also a day called Ilkkunnal (the first day of the second lunar month).

That day, peasants repaired their houses and prepared for farming before starting the plowing, while having a rest. At daytime, they enjoyed dancing and singing.

Children fixed rice, kaoliang and corn ears in the stacks of rice straws or compost piles and simulated shooing away birds, which represented their hope for bumper harvest.

That day, peasants made songphyon (half-moon-shaped rice cake steamed with pine needles).

They also felt the fragrance of spring, making delicious food with fresh wild greens collected in the mountains and fields.

Typical greens include shepherd’s purse and giant garlic.

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