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Deborum (대보름) is an up-coming festival celebrated on the fifteenth of January. This festival is based on the lunar calendar and means ‘great full moon.’ The locals believe that the first full moon appears on the fifteenth of January. Like many Korean festivals, there are always traditional activities that highlight the festival.
For example there is the tradition of cracking nuts with your teeth called borum (보름). It’s thought that cracking nuts with your teeth will create a healthy set of teeth for the coming year. The origins for this tradition is unclear. However, this tradition goes back to the time when dental care was not widespread in Korea. It may have been a way to deal with unhealthy teeth. Also, nuts are a good source of nutrition and many peasants who lacked protein could stock up on it with this tradition.
There’s also the tradition called orum (오름) on deborum (대보름). Orum (오름) is an activity where a mass of people try to climb the highest mountain peak in their local village. The first person to reach the top and see the full moon is the person who will have the most luck in the coming year.
The highlight of the festival is an activity called jwi-bul-nori (쥐볼놀이). Jwi-bul-nori (쥐볼놀이) is an activity where used cans are poked with holes and stuffed with dry grass. The cans are lighted and children whirl the cans around a field of crops. The ash from the dry grass in the cans fertilize the fields. This game is a pyro maniac’s dream. The fires are quite big and spread far into the fields. Jwi-bul-nori (쥐볼놀이) serves two purposes. One of the purposes happen to be practical. Through a game-like fashion, jwi-bul-nori (쥐볼놀이) completes an important part of the agricultural cycle. The second purpose is more entertaining. The fires caused by jwi-bul-nori (쥐볼놀이) are beautiful. They are jaw-dropping.
Here’s what I mean by the deborum (대보름) festival being a arsonist’s paradise: