Dano, start of summer
By Shim Hyun-chul
The sun scorched the asphalt as if to melt it and tires out the body even before going down for the day. Children jump into fountains and people eagerly bite mouthfuls of ice cream or slurp up every last drop of their ice Americano coffee, anything to beat the heat.
Summer’s heat wave has arrived here in Korea in accordance with the lunar calendar. “Dano,” the fifth day of the fifth lunar month signifying the start of summer, falls on June 24 this year.
Through traditional seasonal customs, people can reflect on how their ancestors used to spend the sizzling months of the year. Dano is one of Korea’s four major holidays along with Lunar New Year’s Day, Chuseok, (Korean Thanksgiving) and Hansik, the 105th day after the winter solstice.
As it is the most active day of the year, on Dano people pray full of energy for a good harvest and peace. They also pray to remove bad spirits and exchange folding fans with each other as gifts, which is particularly useful to create even the slightest movement of air. Representative Dano food includes rice cakes made out of vegetables and cherry drinks.
Korean women wash their face and hair with calamus-infused water, in order to remove the ghosts around them. They wear a new red/blue dress and hairclip, which is also made out of calamus roots.
Dano events will be held on June 24 throughout the country. The National Folk Museum of Korea holds activities where visitors can see and experience traditional seasonal customs. Customs of neighboring countries, China and Japan for around this time of year are also included. For more information, visit www.nfm.go.kr.
A variety of programs will be held at Gangneung Danoje Festival, which is registered as Important Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. For more information, visit www.danojefestival.or.kr.