Monday, 13 February 2012

New Moon On Monday!

That Duran Duran song was playing on my mind when I read that the Jeongwol Daeboreum, the first new moon of the lunar new year, will be on a Monday.

And according to tradition, twigs gathered during winter will be burned and its ashes are used to fertilize the fields in spring.

In short, there will be fire again. 

It would be my fourth one, I suppose. But I'm happy no property would be set ablaze this time. Only twigs and dried branches.

And since it's purely ceremonial, and not accidental, a fire truck is on hand to make sure it gets put out properly. Nobody needs to call 119.

And before the lighting ceremony, a thousand people gathered in Namsangol in Seoul awaiting for the high priest to light up the bonfire. 

Although there would be huge fire in a few minutes, I didn't notice anybody ready to light up a cigarette to simultaneously celebrate the vice. I guess this area has been designated as a non-smoking place, too, where smokers are fined with a W100,000 penalty if caught with a lighted cigarette. (Arsonists, on the other hand, go scot-free.)

And after minutes of drumming and some dancing amidst the strong smell of kerosene, the wigwam-shaped ceremonial tree was lighted!  I could almost hear myself 'burn, baby, burn!', if not for frenzied clicking of the cameras next to me.

 Howling mixed with oohs and aahs seemed to resonate alongside the cracking of the burning twigs, which somewhat raised the temperatures in Namsangol from freezing to the perfect grill-me-a-barbecue kind of fire!

Since this wasn't The Towering Inferno type of fire (which lasted  2 hours and 45 minutes on the screen, and Maureen McGovern's song ringing in one's head after), this was just a five-minute ceremony about burning twigs and the new moon on a Monday.

Just as fast as it burned, it was immediately hosed down by the eager firemen who didn't want any of those flying embers landing on the Korean traditional houses in Namsangol. Tonight was supposed to be a celebration of a tradition, not a real fire drill.

I now hope that those ashes fertilize the rice fields around Korea. I especially would wish they are scattered around strawberry fields to make those strawberries bigger and sweeter. Oh well, perhaps they can save some ashes for the rice fields, too. Although I'm not fond of eating rice myself. (I don't even have a rice cooker at home! Ha-ha-ha!)

If they run out of ashes, there's always the next year's Daeboreum! In the meantime, let's stay safe and away from fire!


  1. Thanks for reminding me of Maureen McGovern.
    I loved her song "The morning after", the title song of "The Poseidon adventure".

  2. You're welcome. I realized just now she's in both disaster films. She survived the fire at The Towering Inferno, and she didn't drown at The Poseidon Adventure. Lucky singer.