Photo courtesy of Gangneung Danoje Festival Committee
Korea's annual Dano holiday (단오), falling on May 5th of the lunar calendar
each year, is one of the three most-celebrated holidays in the nation; the other two being Seollal (Lunar
New Year's Day) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day). It was originally established as a day for people to share traditional food together in order to stay healthy and fit for the summer. It was also a time to hold rituals to pray for a year of abundant harvest.
The Gangneung Danoje Festival, held in Gangwon-do, was the most well-known commemorative event found during the past, and its traditional games and activities have been passed down from generation to generation. Thanks to the cultural uniqueness and remarkable artistic qualities of Gangneung Danoje, the festival was acknowledged by UNESCO and proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The festive mood of the Gangneung Danoje Festival can be felt throughout the whole city. The main festivities for 2015's Gangneung Danoje Festival will run from June 16 to 23 at the Gangneung Dano Cultural Center and in the area around Namdaecheon Stream. Visitors will be able to experience traditional Yeonhui performances (theatrical performances featuring song, dance and drama) for free and experience other time-honored cultural events.
The events at the Gangneung Danoje Festival are divided into cultural events, folk games, experiential learning events, celebratory events, citizen participation events, and concerts and performances.
* The cultural events begin with the offering of alcohol to the gods (Sinju Bitgi) on May 22rd (April 5th on the lunar calendar), but the main events of the Gangneung Danoje Festival start with the Yeongsinje (the spirit-welcoming ceremony) and the Sintongdaegil traditional parade on June 18th. At that point, the Daegwallyeong memorial tablets and the sacred tree are placed in a shrine for a memorial service. After the rituals are complete, a procession accompanied by folk music winds its way to an altar prepared at Namdaecheon Stream. After the parade, the people proceed to Namdaecheon for the gut (shaman's rite) and a mask drama play.
The Danogut is performed by Gangneung's most well-known female shaman, who prays for the health and happiness of all the people at the festival. There are many different versions to this performance, with about 20 variations both slight and major. However, the basic form of speaking to spirits, dancing and chanting are found in each version.
Performed only at the Gangneung Danoje Festival, the Gwanno Mask Drama is a non-verbal traditional Korean mask drama where the lower class servants (nobi) wore masks of the upper class nobles (yangban). The drama is about the love of an upper class nobleman and the forces that interfere with his love. This easy-to-follow comedic drama runs for roughly 50 minutes and is sure to put a smile on your face.
Ssireum is traditional Korean wrestling for men. The wrestlers grab on to each other's satba (a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist and legs) and the match begins. The wrestler who gets the other on the ground first wins the game. Both group and individual ssireum tournaments are held during the Danoje Festival. The group tournament is played by teams composed of Gangneung citizens while the individual tournament is open to all festival visitors.
The swinging contest is one of the most popular folk games enjoyed by women during the Danoje Festival. A swing is hung on a tree and whoever can swing the highest is declared the winner of the competition.
Other Dano customs can be experienced at the festival venue. Visitors can take part in such hands-on programs as making surichwi-tteok (rice cakes made with a type of marsh plant) and sampling sinju liquor (liquor made a month before Dano to offer to the gods) for free of charge. In addition, washing your hair with sweet flag-infused water, Dano fan-decorating programs and more are available at the festival venue, for a small participation fee.
The Sintongdaegil traditional parade marks the beginning of Dano and is the most popular citizen participation event during the festival. After the folk play, the memorial tablet is carried to the altar at the festival venue. Over 5,000 Dano lanterns illuminate the parade path, and a huge number of citizens carrying lanterns follow the Sintongdaegil traditional parade, creating a festive mood. The citizens make rice offerings to the gods, and then use the collected rice to make alcohol and tteok (떡, rice cakes) for everyone to try. It is said that those who eat the rice cakes and drink the alcohol used in the sacrificial rites will remain healthy for the rest of the year.
2015 Gangneung Danoje Festival Main Events
|May 22 (Fri)||Chilsadang Shrine (칠사당)|
|June 1 (Mon)||Daegwallyeong Sansindang Shrine
|June 1 (Mon)||Daegwallyeong Guksaseonghwangsa Temple
Yeongsinje (영신제) /
|June 18 (Thur)||Hongje-dong Guksayeoseonghwangsa~Danojedan Shrine (홍제동 여성황사~단오제단)|
|June 18 (Thur) 20:00||Gangneung Medical Center~Okcheon-dong Five-way intersection (Gyeonggang-ro street)~ Seongnae-dong Plaza (강릉의료원~옥천동 오거리(경강로)~성내동 광장)|
|June 19 (Fri)-23 (Tue) 11:00-20:00||Danojedan Altar
|Gwanno Mask Drama
|June 16 (Tue) 13:00/19:00
June 17 (Wed) 11:00/15:00
June 18 (Thur) 16:00
June 19 (Fri) 17:00/20:00
June 20 (Sat) 20:00
June 21 (Sun) 20:00
June 22 (Mon) 15:00/18:00
June 23 (Tue) 12:00/17:00
|Songsinje (송신제)||June 23 (Tue)||Danojedan Altar