By annual ceremonies and rites is meant those traditional events performed repeatedly and in a customary fashion at certain defined times dufning the seasons of the year. The fact that such are handed down from generation to generation in any society conspicuously reveals the traditionalism and the uniqueness of the community.
Such on Jeju are based on occupations related to agriculture, fisheries and stockbreeding owing, as has been said, to the island's geographical climate and, even though these ceremonies and rites are unique, there is yet a harmony with the general mainland ceremonies and rites.
January has many ceremonies and rites including practices involving divination. These extend from the first to the 15th.On New Year's Day called Seolmengjil or Jeongwolmengjil, after performing ancestral memorial rites, people make New Year's calls, read Tojeongbigyeol, a fortune-telling book, and practice divination by yut sticks. These activities are similar to those of other provinces.
On Ipchun, the first day of spring (the first of the 24 seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar - about the fourth of February) a spring welcoming sign in Chinese characters is hung on gates or walls and all speak and act with great discretion while women are strictly forbidden to enter others' houses. If anything is carried out of the house, it is believed that the family riches will be reduced and roots of barley are pulled to predict a rich or poor harvest for the year.
During the first 10 days of the new year, each family performs an ancestral sacrifice on a rigiween New Year's Day and the 15th day of January, each village performs a Danggut and poje.
The Danggut centers around the women of the village and is performed as a form of exorcism at the Dang (shrine) on a day set by each town.
Poje is a Confucian rite performed on a selected propitious day to pray for family members' peace, good health and riches. The sacrifices are munjeonbinyeom, maenggamkoso, and yowangje, all performed by simbang (shamans) and Confucian tosinje. Betmed by an official selected by an influential man of the community on the first Jeong day of the new year. The character Jeong is the fourth sign of the ten celestial stems.
A Bangswiyeon (a kite) is flown on the 15th day of the new year to ward off evil. Also on the 15th of the first month Dochaebibangshwi was performed wherein a straw man was figuratively thrown away to prevent misfortune during the year. February by the lunar calendar is called the month of Yeongdeung. There is a Welcome Rite on Feb. 1 and the Yeongdeung farewell Rite which falls between the 12th and 15th of the second lunar month. From the first to fifteenth of February, there was no fishing activity in former years.
The third lunar month also has large and small rites and ceremonies. On Samjitnal, the third day, there is hwajeonnori which is for viewing flowers in the mountains and along streams. Residents of some villages like Yongsu-ri, Hangyeong-Myeon, BukJeju-gun, perform Yeolnyeoje rites venerating a faithful woman named Mrs. Ko. At the same tome, new mothers and women without milk pray to the Water Granny by a fountain and, for the first plowing of a field in the year the ox is faced east. In former years, the gathering of marine products such as brown seaweed started in this month and woman divers worked in other provinces.
In the Fourth month, there are several events related to the birthday of Buddha. There is the rite called "Lanterns of Keulcheong" held in village schools and children had their hair cut. In shamanism, that day was called "the day Grandmother Maengjnguk is enthroned" and lanterns were lighted. Weather divination and "Baekosi" are practiced and people collect small shellfish as curios on the beach using lighted torches during the night.
On Dano-nal, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, households had special foods going from door to door in the old days. Especially noteworthy were the picking of various medicinal herbs; infusing bamboo shoots which are believed to be good for indigestion; to apply a boiled herb named Ikmocho to a women just delivered of a child; and to decoct motherworts, pine cones, black beans, and barley stems. There were games like "Pping-i-chigi" in which players try to take from each other the heart of a flower called tti-kkot and there was also" Viewing a New Star" when Venus was viewed at dawn.
Yuduil was enacted during June when people prayed to Grandmother Jeseok for a good harvest of sideline cash crops such as watermelons and cucumbers. The 20th of June was "the Day to Eat Chicken," at which time every house served chicken. It was widely believed that to be effective, women should eat roosters and men a hen. Uncooked piglet was also considered a special delicacy. On the evening of the 20th day, there was the custom of "Reading the Sky". In bean fields, people played "Catching Dumi" in which they caught gold beetles, and boiled rice was wrapped in bean leaves. In fishing and agrarian villages, people prepared and burned the stalks of Dalmatian pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cineraria folium) to fumigate houses and clothing.
In the Seventh month, Paekjung-je, the rite to console the souls of herders and pray for the prosperity of livestock farming, was performed. On this day, the shimbang removed stored paraphernalia from the shrine to dry them in the sun and observe the rite Mabullim-je, the cleaning of the inside of the house to guard against damage by blight and noxious insects. On the seventh day, the "rite of the Great Dipper" is performed. In Buddhist temples, special services were offered. Foods served in this month are immature abalones, sea urchins, brown seaweeds, crabs, wreath shells, and soup of Bareukuk with marine products. People also drink a bowl of dewdrops, which is any water from field or pond, in the belief it will be efficacious against breast troubles and beriberi.
A noteworthy custom in the Eighth month was (and still is) sobun which is cutting the grass on the family grave. This practice is also called the Korean version of Thanksgiving Day.
After performing ancestor memorial rites in their houses, the people spend a leisure day of visiting and gaming. It is said that, in old times, a big game of rope pulling called jorihui was played on that day.
September is famous for 'kut' or exorcism. After harvesting in September, people have a simbang observe a rite for 'twit-halmang', a snake spirit deified in the backyard of the house. The rite is carried out by renewing the cloth which last year was placed over two roofing tiles lashed together with the seeds of five cereals inserted between the tiles. This rite is called "cheolgari." Keunmyeongil is performed on the ninth day when Shamans (simbang) place a long pole in their houses and perform a tree-day, large-scale Kut.
In the Tenth month, people tag and before branding, cowhands perform sacrificial rites. In old times, the brand was registered with the local government and each household had its own. In many villages, a great rite of simanguk-je was performed in the Bonhyang-dang shrine but nowadays, this is performed by a shaman in a kut asking for a good harvest. At Buddhist temples, prayers are held on the 15th day of the Tenth month as a prelude to the ceremony of the 15th day of the First month.
During the Eleventh month there is no special event except Dongji, the winter solstice. If the day is mild, diseases will be widespread the following year. Rice and red-bean porridge is served, and sometimes plastered on the front gate to expel evils.
In the last month, a special custom is singugan which means the transition from the old to the new. The period ranges from the fifth day after Daehan, "the great cold," to the third day before Ipchun. During this time, a house may be repaired, the lavatory remodelled or a move into a different dwelling can be made and that is why, every year on Jeju, there is such a frantic week of moving. People take a growing interest in the new year. There are always signs that tell if there will be a good or poor harvest in the coming year. If there are many and long icicles hanging from the eaves, an abundant harvest of German millet is to be expected. During January, a special food is served called yeot, a Korean taffy considered a cure-all.
In addition to the 12 months, there are also leap years. A Leap-month is considered to be a gongdal-an empty month.