kruPanida


Project Report

Asia-Pacific Teacher Exchange for Global Education

 

 

 

Project Report

 

 

 

Korean Traditional Festivals:

A Comparison of Korea and Thailand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submited by

 

Mrs. Panida Namsowan

 

Nakhonsawan School, Thailand

Host school: Inhwa Girls’ Middle School

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korea – Thailand Teacher Exchange Programme 2017

 


 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The completion of this project could not have been accomplished without the support and encouragement of many individuals and resources. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all of them.

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to people who have involved in this exchange programme, MOE Korea, MOE Thailand, APCEIU UNESCO, Inhwa Girls’Middle School for giving me a great experience to learn Korean culture and to share my home country culture. The programme truly promotes the intercultural understanding and global citizenship.

I would like to express my special thanks to Ms. Choi Soo Yeon, my kindest mentor teacher and Ms. Yoo Eun Ji, my prettiest co-teacher for their continuous support and guidance during the time I conducted this project on the topic of Korean traditional festivals: a comparison of Korea and Thailand. They guided me with clear and informative suggestion on which culturally important festivals of Korea I should included in my project. I came to know about so many new things about the topic because of their supportive dedication.

I am also indebted to the 3rd year students who participated in the interviewing session of the project study. Although we faced the communication challenges or language barrier, we eventually overcame and got through that challenge together. I really appreciated your great cooperation and efforts.

Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my caring, loving, and supportive family for always be with me, even we did not meet each other for the past three months. Your understanding and unconditional support really reached me up whenever I needed encouragement.

 

 

 

 

 

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this project were(1) to provide the information about the culturally important festivals of Korea namely Chuseok, Seollal, Chilseok, Dano, Hansik, Yudo, and Chopail, (2) to study how a festival reflects to Korean people’s way of life, and (3) to identify cultural similarities and differences between Korea and Thailand in terms of traditional festivals.

All data related to the topic from electronic media, printing media, and personal interview were collected. The qualitative data were analyzed and interpreted in qualitative study without variable control. The analysis results were presented descriptive writing with pictures.

The study disclosed that studying about traditional festivals can provide a better understanding and harmonious development of the two cultures, Korea and Thailand, for building positive attitudes and perceptions of cultural diversity and acceptance, especially for the young generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENT

 

Acknowledgement

i

Abstract

ii

Table of content

iii

  1. I.                   Introduction

1

  1. II.               Details
    1. Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)
    2. Seollal (Korean Lunar New Year)
    3. Chilseok (The Traditional Korean Valentine’s day)
    4. Dano (Suri Day)
    5. Hansik (Cold Food Festival)
    6. Yudu (The Festival of Hair Washing)
    7. Chopail (Lotus Lantern festival & Buddha’s Birthday)
    8. Korean Festivals in Summary
    9. Interview Report on Korea festivals

10. Comparison of Cultural festivals between Korea and Thailand

                       - Seollal and Songkran

                       - Chapail and Loy Krathong

                       - Chopail and Visakha Bucha Day

                       - Chuseok and Sart Thai

                       - Hansik and Gin Jay (Vegetalian Festival)

2

2

5

8

10

12

13

14

16

18

 

20

21

22

23

24

  1. III.            Conclusion and suggestions

25

References

26


  1. I.                   INTRODUCTION

 

Culture is not only the soul carrier of human being but also the core of a nation. Different nations have different cultures. Since a national festival represents the best cultural achievements and most significant customs of a country, a festival is a cultural phenomenon and also a powerful tool for the study of cultures because it can provide a useful link to understand one’s local cultures.

This teacher exchange programme allowed me a great opportunity to live and learn new culture in Korea for almost three months. I had learnt many good things about Korea both insides the school setting such as education system, classroom management,  teaching techniques etc. and outsides learning through the cultural trips around Korea.

During the time of living in Korea there came an important traditional festivals, Choseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day), I would really like to study more about this festival and other culturally important festivals of Korea because the festivals reflect life, history, arts, food, color, and joy of a society on which people give thanks for a harvest, commemorate an honored person or event, pay respect to the dead, or celebrate a culture.

I believe that if I want to understand Korea deeply, I should get an insight looking into Korean festivals because festivals in Korea combine some of the most fascinating elements of Korean history, culture, arts, and food, making each festival a unique reflection of its local flavor.

As to live happily and peacefully in the era of globalization, we need to learn and accept the differences between Thais and Koreans who have different background, beliefs, thoughts, ways of life, and cultural festivals. To get a deeper understanding of Korean culture through festivals, I also compared the similarities and differences of traditional festivals between Korea and Thailand. These can enhance culture exchange between Korea and Thailand which is beneficial to promoting global communication and development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. II.                DETAILS

 

Korean festivals are full of life and they are celebrated throughout the year. Cultural Korean festivals hold prime importance in Korean society because they love their tradition and multicolored culture. Koreans love sports, music, arts, agriculture, movies and martial arts and they have a unique way of celebrating. They pay tribute to their history and culture by celebrating festivals related to the different walks of their social life. Families and family culture is the lifeline of Koreans and to help it flourish. That is why Korean is considered as “The land of festivals.” (http://www.brighthubeducation.com)

For almost every activity and event of Korean life, they celebrate by organizing festivals.  Let us talk in detail about the culturally important festivals of Korea.

 

1. Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

           (Source: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=811650)

 

Chuseok, also known as Hangawee, Han means “big” and gawi means “the ides of the 8th lunar month or autumn.” In ancient society, people used to worship and hold festivals under the full moon which was on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.

Chuseok is a period where wheat and fruits thrive. Yet during Chuseok, people mainly eat a rice cake called Songpyeon. Songpyeon (half-moon rice cakes) consists of beans, adzuki, chestnuts, jujube and other grains, all picked from new crops.

 

                                          (Source: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=811650)

 

The festival falls on the busiest tourist month and usually every Korean is found heading back home to celebrate this festival. It is believed that ancestors come back to earth to bless their kids on this day. On morning of the day of Chuseok, family members gather at their homes to hold memorial services called charyein honor of their ancestors.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  (Source: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=811650)

 

Another traditional custom of Chuseok is seongmyo in which Koreans prepare traditional food and visit graves of their ancestors to show respect and appreciation for family ancestors. During seongmyo, family members remove the weeds that have grown around the graves and pay respect to the deceased with a simple memorial service. Women and girls wear hanboks, whereas menfolk wear baji-po and the atmosphere looks colorful and immersed in traditional style. People drink alcohol made from fresh rice and name it as 'The Hundred Year' drink.

Koreans celebrate their glorious past because they believe remembering past is one way to make your future and present blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

     (Source: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=811650)

 

As Chuseok is a celebration of harvest and abundance, Koreans have spent the holiday period with various entertainment and folk games such as samulnori (traditional percussion quartette), talchum (mask dance), ganggangsullae (Korean circle dance), and ssireum (traditional Korean wrestling).Ganggangsullae is performed during Chusoek or Jeongwol Daeboreum (celebration of 15th day of the first lunar calendar). In this dance, women dressed in hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) join hands in a circle and sing together on the night of the first full moon and on Chuseok. There are several stories about its origin. One of the most well-known stories says that the dance dates back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) when the Korean army used to dress the young women of the village in military uniforms and had them circle the mountains to give off the appearance that the Korean military was greater in number than it actually was from the enemy side. The Korean army enjoyed many victories thanks to this scare tactic. Ssireum, another significant traditional entertainment, is a one-on-one wrestling match held on a circular sand pit that requires strength and skills.

2. Seollal (Korean Lunar New Year)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Source: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=941952)

Seollal, or Korean Lunar New Year is a holiday and celebration which marks the first day of the Korean Lunar Calendar.  It is a very old tradition and an interesting fact remains that there is no record of when the tradition of Seollal actually originated. Though the celebration is typically three days long, beginning the day before and ending the day after. Traditionally, families gather from all over Korea at the house of their oldest male relative to pay their respects to both ancestors and elders. The centerpiece of the holiday is the ritual of ancestor worship, but there are other activities including eating together, playing games and “Sebae' where children and students bow to their elders and receive small gifts of money.

                                                                                                  SEBAE(세배)

                                                     (Source: http://www.wishtrendglam.com/seollal-lunar-new-year-korea/)

The family traditionally participates in a highly structured ritual of ancestor reverence, referred to as 'charye.' Charye involves the preparation of food by female relatives and the serving of food to ancestors by male relatives. Both sexes participate in the final step of the ceremony called 'eumbok,' by eating the food and thereby gaining the ancestors blessing for the coming year. The food prepared for the ancestors differs by region, but rules like the placement of the food are generally similar.

 Though the food prepared for the ceremony of charye differs by region, the most common varieties are rice, soup, meat, seafood, liquor, fruit and vegetables. Another very common dish is tteokguk, or rice cake soup which, though eaten throughout the year, carries special significance on Seollal. Children are especially excited to eat tteokguk because consuming a bowl marks a person’s Lunar Calendar Birthday. There are scattered reports of youngsters trying to grow more than one year by consuming multiple bowls of tteokguk, but the jury is still out on whether it does in fact accelerate the aging process! Much like Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) people spend days preparing large quantities of food for Seollal, sometimes resulting in what is called 'Myung Cheol Chung Hu Kun' or “Post-Holiday Trauma.” This holiday exhaustion can also be the result of driving long distances, enjoying too much great food, or dealing with the clean-up after all the relatives have left.

When not eating or catching-up on each other’s lives, families often play games like GoStop and Yut Nori. Most families in Korea own a set of “Hwatu” playing cards in much the same way households in the West own 52-card decks. GoStop is an easy to learn game, often involving the betting of smalls sums of money, and is played by 2 or 3-people using “Hwatu” cards. Hwatu means “Battle of Flowers” and refers to the colorful images painted on the 48 cards in the deck. Each deck is broken into 12 sets of 4 similarly painted cards representing the 12 months in the year. Players score points by matching features of the cards in a variety of combinations, and after scoring 3 or 7 points, must decide whether to continue “go'ing or “stop” the game. Players add-up their points, which are modified by the number of times they said “go” and then exchange small sums of money based on their total number of points. Games are short, rarely lasting longer than 15 minutes but are a great way for everyone to unwind and have some fun. GoStop can get loud due to the belief that yelling when playing your cards can improve luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Game: Yut Nori

Source: http://crazykoreancooking.com/foodandculture/

 

Yut Nori is by many accounts a much older game than GoStop, and there is no limit to the number of players. For all intents and purposes, Yut Nori is a race to the finish based on the throwing of four marked sticks instead of dice to determine movement. The object is for each team to get its four “Mals” or horses back to and past the finish line, which is also the starting line. Yut Nori is often played as a 'first to 3 wins” game but the rules are malleable and the number of wins, players, and special or “house” rules is really up to the participants.

(http://asiasociety.org/korea/seollal-korean-lunar-new-year)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://jakwave.co.uk/%EC%84%A4%EB%82%A0-seollal-korean-lunar-new-year-celebration/

3. Chilseok (The Traditional Korean Valentine’s Day)

 

Chilseok is the traditional mid-summer festival in Korea, celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. It coin­cides with the monsoon season, when rains fall heavily for about six weeks, and that moment of summer when wheat goes out of season, giving way to the harvest of squash and melons. Chilseok was traditionally cele­brated with meals of wheat-based food and fried pumpkin, but is now best known for the tale of Jiknyeo and Gyeonwu, whose tears of joy at their reunion are said to fall every 7th day of every 7th month to this day.

 

The love story of Jiknyeo and Gyeonwu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


On opposite sides of the universe lived Jiknyeo, a young woman who was very good at weaving clothes and Gyeonwu, a young handsome herder of cattle. Jiknyeo was the daughter of the heavenly King and she was so beautiful that she was loved by all of the angels in heaven. One day as Jiknyeo was weaving, she looked out of the window and caught a glimpse of Gyeonwu who was living across the Milky Way. The two soon fell in love and with the blessing of the King they were united to marry and live together. The young couple were so in love that Jiknyeo stopped weaving clothes and no longer would Gyeonwu herd the sheep and cows. This upset the King very much and he decided that they should live apart from each other, separated by the Milky Way.

Only once a year were the couple permitted to meet each other, on the seventh day of the seventh month. On July 7th each year, although Jiknyeo and Gyeonwu were excited to meet each other, they couldn’t cross the Milky Way. The crows and magpies of the universe saw the despair of the young couple and would come together to make a bridge so that they could meet and hug. After spending a short time together, the couple would realize that it would be another year before they could meet again and they would both cry. It is these tears which symbolizes the start of the monsoon season.

http://asiasociety.org/korea/chilseok-traditional-korean-valentine%E2%80%99s-day

 

 

 


                                                                                                                Gyeonu and Jiknyewo

                                                                                                     (Source: https://weyesweb.wordpress.com)

 

 

 

 

 

Customs

Traditionally at Chilseok, Koreans would take baths for good health and eat wheat flour noodles and grilled wheat cake. Chilseok is the last time of the year to eat wheat based foods as after the onset of the cold winds, the wheat loses some of its quality. Although today these traditions are not as strong, the story of Jiknyeo and Gyeonwu remains common knowledge to all Koreans. So next time you see rain on the evening of Chilseok, remember that it is the tears of two young lovers separating with the realization that they have to wait one more year to meet again.

 

 

 

 

 


         wheat-flour noodles 밀국수                          grilled wheat cake 밀전병

    (Source: https://weyesweb.wordpress.com)

 

 

4. Dano (Suri Day)

 

 

 

Sceneray on Dano Day, painted by Shin Yun-bok is one of Korea's most famous representations of the holiday Dano.

(Source: http://www.danojefestival.or.kr/)

 

 

Dano is literally 'the first fifth'. Dan (단, 端) means 'first' and o (오, 午) means 'five'. Traditionally, the day was believed to be filled with positive yang energy, and in ancient times when people worshipped the sun and the moon, Dano was a day for the sun god. It is the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, and is also called the Suri day or the Chunjungjul. The origin of Dano is said to go back to ancient China during the days of King Hwe and the Cho Dynasty. A subject named Gulwon, after falling into the traps of the treacherous, commits suicide at Myuklasu to demonstrate his faithfulness. This took place on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. Since then, memorial services for Gulwon have taken place every year. This custom conveyed to Korea to become Dano.

Washing one’s hair with Changpo water
In traditional societies, women cut the roots of Changpo and made them into hairpins to prevent headaches. This custom, also called Danojang, included washing one’s hair in Changpo-boiled water to add extra shine on hair.                                                                          (Source: https://weyesweb.wordpress.com)

Marriage under the Jujube Tree
As a method for praying for an abundant year of farmhouse production, people stuck rocks between the roots of a jujube tree. This tradition is called Marriage under the Jujube Tree.

 

Wrestling and Swing Jump
Swing jump is a popular game between women during Dano. On the other hand, Korean style wrestling, also known as Ssireum, is very popular with men. As a custom, the winner of the Ssireum competition is awarded with a bull.

 

 

Suritteok and Yaktteok are the major dishes for the Dano season. Mugwort leaves are cooked and put into non-glutinous rice and kneaded together to make a green and cartwheel shaped Suri rice cake. Yaktteok are rice cakes that are made with various weeds and can be found in the South Jeolla Province. During the Danoseason where cherries flourish, many people enjoy cherry punch and children eat fried rice and corn for snacks. In addition, memorial services implemented this day are decorated with newly made mugwort rice cakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


                                         

                                                       Suritteok

                                               (Source: https://koreanclassmassive.com/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Hansik (Cold Food Festival)

 

Hansik marks the beginning of the farming season and it is celebrated 105 days after Dongji, which is known as the 'little new year' festival. The term Hansik is derived from an old custom of not lighting fire, thus eating cold food. It is also known as Cold Food Festival because farmers start sowing new seeds in their fields and irrigate their fields with cold water.

It is said that the origin of this holiday goes back to ancient China where the day was made to console Gaechachu, a loyal subject of Jin. Being chased by a treacherous subject, Gaechachu was in hiding at Mount Myun. Knowing Gaechachu’s loyalty, Mungong went to find Gaechachu only to return with nothing. Mungong’s last attempt to find Gaechachu was by setting fire to the mountain. Yet Gaechachu did not come out and was burned alive. Ever since then people had a custom of eating cold rice to commemorate his death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Source: https://weyesweb.wordpress.com)

This day, the country holds sacrificial rites at Jongmyo (Royal Shrine) and Neungwon. Citizens hold their own memorial services and visit their families’ ancestral graves. If the grave is worn they lay fresh turf in a custom called Gaesacho. People also plant trees around the grave and after that, various traditional rites are performed like tug-of-warcock-fighting and beating out blankets. At the time of dinner, people eat cold food as it is believed to bring good harvest in the coming months.

 

6. Yudu (The festival of Hair Washing)

 

Yudu (literally means “immersing head in flowing water”) is a traditional summer festival which falls on the 15th of the sixth lunar month. Offering the first harvest of the season to the gods is the main tradition of Yudu. As the new harvest starts to grow during the Yudu season, households use this day called Yuduchunsin to gather Yudumeyon, Sanghwabyeong, Yeonbyeong, Sudan, Geondan, various wheat, and fruits to offer a sacrifice to spirits.

 

In addition, people visit a clean stream to wash their hair and body on this day. Legend has it that it is auspicious to wash hair with the east-flowing mountain stream. This custom is believed to chase away bad spirits and help avoid suffering from heat during the summer.

                                                                         (Source: http://en.g-photography.net/news/festivals/news_4096.html)

 During this day, people eat Yudumeyon, Sudan, Sanghwabyung, and many other dishes. Everyone enjoys Yudumeyon this day, for its superstition of prolonging life and chasing away the midsummer heat. Yudumeyon, which is usually made of flour, can also be made with malted rice and be called Yudu Soup. It is said that if it is made into three marble shaped balls, dyed with various colors, and hung on household doors with strings, disasters will be prevented. Sudan is made by cooking rice powder, cutting them into long thin slices, rolling them into little marble shaped balls and then soaking them in honey. Sanghwabyung is a dish made by kneading water with soybean flour, adding sesame, soaking it in honey and cooking them all together.

 

 

 

 

 


                Yudumeyon                             Sudan                           Sanghwabyung

7. Chopail (Lotus Lantern Festival & Buddha’s Birthday)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


                                                                                             (Source: http://www.buddhachannel.tv)

 

Chopail also called as Buddha’s Birthdaywhere Buddhist people celebrate the founder of Buddhism. The most common name of this day, Sawol Chopail, meaning “the eighth of the fourth lunar month”, is also the date on which the holiday is celebrated in Korea.

                                                                                                       (Source:http://seouldailyphoto.blogspot.kr/)

Before this event, families build lanterns in accordance to the number of their family members. On the celebration day, people lit the lamps and hang them outside their homes. These lanterns are mostly made in shapes of lotus flowers because the lotus is a common symbol in Buddhism. As the lotus grows from the darkness of mud and blossoms in the light, it therefore represents the process of shedding ignorance to attain wisdom. The candle inside is also highly important as it signifies the attainment of wisdom. By making lotus lanterns people are therefore aspiring to achieve greater wisdom and spiritual enlightenment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


                                                               (Source:http://stevegoestravelling.blogspot.kr/)

 

During Chopail or Buddha’s Birthday, various colorful Lotus lanterns covering the entire temple throughout the Buddha’s birthday month which are often flooded down the street, many temples served free meals and tea to all visitors. Another popular entertainment for children, known as Subu nori involves eating elm rice cakes and grilled soybeans, and drumming on a gourd dipper placed upside down over a jar of water all while sitting on a mat under the festive lanterns.

The traditional breakfast and lunch being prepared and served are often sanchae bibimbap, means mixed rice, served in a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujana (chili pepper paste). Bibimbap dish is commonly added by a raw or fried egg and sliced meat, usually use is beef meat, stirred together before serving.

A highlight of the Buddha’s Birthday celebration is Buddha bathing. This ritual is derived from a legend that tells of the guryong who descended to earth at the birth of Buddha and bathed the newborn. Today this ritual is carried out by placing the statue of Buddha inside a large basin so that the faithful can take turns pouring water on it. (Source: http://folkency.nfm.go.kr/)

Korean Festivals in Summary

(Event, Date, Significance, and Food)

Festival

Significance

Events

Date

Food

Chuseok

Harvest festival

Charye(Ancestral ceremony), 

Ssireum(Korean wrestling match),

Visiting ancestral grave sites.

15th day of eighth month

Songpyeon(Pine flavoured rice cake stuffed with chestnuts, sesame or beans),

Torantang(Taro soup)

Seollal

New Year's Day

Sebae(New Year's greetings), 

Charye(Ancestral ceremony), 

Yunnori(Traditional game)

1st day of first month

Tteokguk(Traditional soup made of rice cake), 

Yakwa(Honey cakes)

Chilseok

Meeting day of Gyeonwoo and Jiknyeo in Korean folk tale

Fabric weaving

7th day of seventh month

Miljeonbyeon(Wheat pancake),

Milguksu(Wheat noodles)

Dano

Celebration of spring and farming

Washing hair with Changpo, Ssireum(Korean wrestling match),

swing, giving fans as gifts

5th day of fifth month

Variety of Tteok, Herb rice cakes

Hansik

Start of farming season

Visit to ancestral grave for offering rite, and cleaning and maintenance.

105 days after Dongji(Winter solstice)

Cold food only: Ssuktteok(Mugwort cake),

Ssukdanja(Mugwort dumplings),

Ssuktang(Mugwort soup)

Yudu

Water greeting

Bathing and washing hair to get rid of bad luck (if any)

15th day of sixth month

Noodles

Chopail

Buddha's Birthday

Lotus Lantern festival,

Buddha bathing

8th day of fourth month

Different types of Tteok,

Dumplings, Special dishes made of fish

 

                               Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Korean_traditional_festivals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students’ Interview Report on Korea festivals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Summary of mini-interviewing

The participants of the interview were the 3rd year students aged 15-16 years old from the Pink Class which was considered to have high English proficiency.

Before the interviewing I was concerned that the students might feel uncomfortable to talk with me in English. Luckily, this was not the case. They answered my questions very confidently and fluently, which a relief. Since I had given them the interview questions before, they had time to prepare beforehand.

The students gave me a lot of information of Korean traditional festivals. All of them told me that the three most important Korean festivals are Seollal, Chuseok and Chilseok. They also revealed about the local festivals of Incheon which I don’t know before. It is such a good exchange of information. I have leant something important from them too. The students described that they will have a great chance to wear new clothes, to eat special foods which come only in the festival, to receive money as a gift from the elders, and to join the special events during that time. They also told me that the most favorite part of festivals for them is that they usually come with the holiday because they will have a lot of free time spent with their family. When I asked them about activities they usually do during the festivals, some might confuse with the seasonal festivals and replied about enjoying K-Pop Idols concert as a special events. I realized that it is their interests because they are teenagers. They feel happy and relaxed to talk about something that they really fond of. If they still have the sense of belonging to their own cultures contributed to the traditional festivals, it is no big deal.

The festivals were started to pass legends, knowledge and traditions onto the next generations like these students. It is our  responsibility to preserve and promote them. The more people know about cultural festivals and pass them down to the next generations, the longer national identity can be preserved.

I did find the interview very beneficial in that it provided me with a realistic picture of Korean festivals. This insight gave me a great basis for understanding different cultures. The students’ answers were also witty, insightful and fun to talk with. I had learnt more about Korean festivals that I am interested in.

All in all, this interview was very informative. I felt pleased with the outcome of the interview. I believed the information gained in it will help me to better understand Korean people and cultures.

 

Interview questions about festivals and celebrations

1. What are some of the most popular festivals or celebrations in your country?

2. Are they celebrated as a family or a group?

3. Are there special foods connected with the celebrations?

4. Are there specific types of gifts to be given?

5. What are some of the things that are done at this festival or celebration?

6. What activities normally take place at festivals?

7. Do you enjoy going to festivals? Why / Why not?

8. Do you know an event or festival of Thailand?

 

(Interviwe questions adapted from http://www.englishwithjo.com/english-conversation-festivals-celebrations/)

 

Comparison of Cultural Festivals between Korea and Thailand

 Seollal (Korean Lunar New Year) and Songkran (Thai New Year’s Festival)

The above two are typical and popular festivals in their own cultural system. Seollal is the chief holiday in Korea while Songkran is the most important day in Thailand. People attach great importance to the celebration of the two festivals.

Seollal is the most distinctive Korean traditional festival, which refers to Lunar New Year, the first day of lunar calendar. It is generally the same day as Chinese New year, mostly in last January or February. Though the celebration is typically three days long, beginning the day before and ending the day after. Traditionally, families gather at the house of their oldest male relative to pay their respects to both ancestors and elders. The centerpiece of the holiday is the ritual of ancestor worship, but there are other activities including eating together, playing games and “Sebae' where children and students bow to their elders and receive small gifts of money.

Songkran the most popular festivals among Thais, also refers to the traditional New Year which occurs on April 13th and last about two days. Not only Songkran has been marked as the traditional Thai New Year, but also it is often referred to as Thailand’s Water Festival. Water features predominantly as a tool for purification – a tradition of modest beginnings, which involved pouring scented water over your elder’s

hands and cleaning Buddhist statues in the hopes of washing away troubles or bad thoughts and bringing good luck for the coming year. Gradually the use of water has escalated and, these days, a giant water fight erupts in all over the country. In addition, Thai people

celebrate the Songkran New Year Water Festival by cleaning their houses and Buddha

statues, visiting local temples, and bringing food to the monks.

In the same way as Seollal in Korea, traveling back to their hometown to pay respect to the elders and ancestors is also the same custom practiced in Thailand during the Songkran festival as well. During the traditional New Year people both in Korea and Thailand dedicate time and focus toward family, feasting, cleaning, gifts, game and hoping for good luck in the New Year.  Although the two countries celebrate their New Year on the other days of a year according to lunar calendar in Korea and solar calendar in Thailand, they still celebrate the international New Year’s Day on the 1st of January on the modern calendar.

 

Chopail (Lotus Lantern Festival) and Loy Krathong (The Festival of Lights)

Chopail in Korea and Loy Krathong in Thailand both are festivals that related to the beliefs of Buddhism. Both of them are the festivals with a history of a thousand years that wish the world happiness and well-being. By lighting lanterns at the festivals, people can brighten their own hearts as well as the world.

Traditionally, the lanterns of Korea and the Krathongs of Thailand are shaped like lotus flowers because the lotus is a common symbol in Buddhism. As the lotus grows from the darkness of mud and blossoms in the light, it therefore represents the process of shedding ignorance to attain wisdom. The candle inside is also highly important as it signifies the attainment of wisdom. By making lotus lanterns and Krathongs people are therefore aspiring to achieve greater wisdom and spiritual enlightenment.

The Lotus Lantern Festival in Korea, commonly referred as “Chopail” is the

largest and most celebrated event dedicated to Buddha’s birthday, which falls on the eighth of the fourth lunar month. This day is observed as a national holiday on which

followers of Buddhism across the nation head to temples for special services. During Chopail, various colorful Lotus lanterns covering the entire temple throughout the Buddha’s birthday month which are often flooded down the street, many temples served free meals and tea to all visitors.

            Loy Krathong in Thailand known as the Lantern Festival or the Festival of Lights is held on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. Literally translated ‘Loy’ means to float and ‘Krathong’ is the Thai word for the lotus shaped  basket  in which a candle is placed. Thais will spend the days leading up to the festival making the krathong out of banana leaves, beautiful flowers and joss sticks. On the day itself, thousands of people will gather along canals and rivers, and letting it float away. They say wishes and prayers and hope that their candle doesn’t go out. The festival is celebrated all over the country. In Chiang Mai,Loy krathong is coincided  with “Yi Peng” festival where Khom Loy is also added to the celebration. The Khom Loy is ‘floating paper lanterns’, which are released overhead into the sky on the night of the festival — it is an incredible sight to behold. Like many Thai festivals, Loy Krathong is a way to respect elders and the Buddha.

            Unlike the Chopail in Korea, Loy Krathong day is not considered as a public/ official holiday but a major public event festival.

Chopail (Lotus Lantern Festival) and Visakha Bucha Day

            In korea, the Chopail festival is commonly known as Buddha’s birthday where Buddhist people celebrate the founder of Buddhism and the day is also the public holiday in Korea; likewise, in Thailand, Buddhists are also celebrated Buddha's birthday known as “Visakha Bucha” which is a public holiday too. Chopail usually takes place on the eighth of the fourth lunar month but Visakha Bucha commonly takes place on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, and it commemorates the day on which the Buddha was born, became enlightened, and passed away, miraculously fall on the same month and date, the Vesak full moon day.

In Thailand, Visakha Bucha day is a time for devout Buddhists to go to local temples and to “make merit”. There are


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