Calming the body and mind with ‘mulmaji’

There are no particular points to mark the start and end of summer. In astronomy, summer is from Haji (mid-June) to fall (mid-September), while in meteorology, summer is from June to August. According to the 24 nodes of seasons, summer is from Ipha (early May) to the day before Ipchu (early August). However, the time when the heat of summer reaches its climax remains the same each year. It is clear that July, which is the month of Soseo, Daeseo, Chobok, and Jungbok (June in the lunar calendar), marks the mid-summer that defeats the fresh heat of early summer. This is why mulmaji(‘water greeting’), which is the most popular summer custom, is celebrated in Yudu (June 15 of the lunar calendar) in the heart of summer. Yudu is the shorter version of “Dongryusudumogyok”, which refers to the act of washing the hair and bathing in the water from the east. Geukgi Kim, who was a writer during the Goryeo Dynasty in the 13th century, has written about the mulmaji custom that existed from the time of Silla and stated, “Gyeongju celebrates Yudu on the 15th day of June to wash hair in the water from the east to eliminate the bad fortunes, and to drink and enjoy.” “Gimgeosajip.”

The alcoholic drink served on Yudu was called “Yudueum”. Yudu mulmaji was not only about washing the body in cold water, but it is also a kind of purification ritual to cleanse the body and mind, and drive away bad luck. The women, who were not allowed to wash their hair or bathe outdoors, were able to untie and wash their hair without restriction on that day. After mulmaji, the people gathered in order to participate in “Yuducheonsin”, which is a ritual that involved offering fresh fruits, wheat noodles (Yudumyeon), and wheat snacks to the ancestors. All of the riversides and valleys across the nation were crowded with people celebrating Yudu because they believed that cooling the body on Yudu would help them stay healthy even in the heat, and prevent summer diseases. Yudu is an original custom that was created and followed only in Korea. Other summer customs, such as Dano, were commonly found in Korea, Mainland China, and Japan. However, the mulmaji of Yudu only existed in the Korean Peninsula. “Juyeongpyeon”, which was published by Dongyoo Jung , was a Silhak scholar from the late Joseon Dynasty. It also states, “Only Yudu is the original custom of this land and all other holidays are from Mainland China.” Hakyoo Jung, who is the second son of Yakyong Jung, sings the lyrics in Yuwollyeong of “Nonggawollyeongga”: “Sambok is Sokjeol and Yudu is Gail. / Let’s pick Korean melons and grind wheat to make noodles / to serve to the gods at the shrine and enjoy the seasonal food. / Women should save the wheat / to make the yeast for Yudugok.”