April 05, 2012 12:34
Increasing numbers of families are digging up tombs in the lunar leap month from April 21 until May 20. The leap month is thought to be the period during which the gods of the sky and the earth take a rest and stop watching people, so this is traditionally when people move tombs or buy shrouds in Korea because there will be no ghosts taking interfering with unpleasant tasks.
Crematoriums nationwide, which normally accept bookings from 15 days in advance, are being flooded with reservations and phone inquiries.
On the other hand, people tend to avoid happy occasions during the leap month. Wedding consultancy Gayeon said significantly fewer couples are getting married during the leap month this year, which comes once every three years, and many people are delaying their wedding until June. It said this is affecting the whole wedding industry from caterers to honeymoon travel agencies.
The industry is offering big promotions like free congratulatory singing services and huge discounts on venue rental or catering.
Some people, by contrast, believe that because there are no ghosts meddling during the leap month, it is actually a good time to get married or move house. A staffer with a moving company said, "In fact, quite a number of people decide to move to a new place during this time to avoid bad luck."
Lee Young-bae, a professor in the Department of Folklore at Andong National University, said, "The beliefs surrounding the leap month are a seasonal custom across Korea, but folktales differ from one region to another and so do interpretations of what the leap month means."
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