A new holiday has been added to the North Korean calendar this year. April 4th is the day, and as ‘Chungmyung Day’ it appears aimed partly at writing off the commemoration of ‘Hansik’, the 105th day after the winter solstice and historically commemorated in Chinese custom, and partly at exemplifying the open heartedness of Kim Jong Eun.
One defector who recently arrived in South Korea told Daily NK on the 6th, “Originally Chungmyung Day was not a national holiday in North Korea, but since 2010 the authorities have been ordering us to rest on that day.”
The defector continued, “Last year we were forbidden to go to our ancestor’s graves at the time of Hansik because of orders handed down by the Central Committee of the Party to all levels stating that Hansik and Dano (the fifth day of the fifth month of the year) are not Chosun indigenous holidays.”
He explained, “We were instructed to go to our family graves and perform a simplified ceremony on Chungmyung Day instead. From this year, however, North Korea has officially marked Chungmyung Day as an official holiday on the calendar.”
Regarding the specific background to the newly marked day, he concluded, “North Korean propaganda has it that the considerate General Kim Jong Eun issued the measure bestowing this day on the people so that they could spend it conducting traditional rituals.”
Chungmyung Day falls on one of the 24 divisions of the year and conveys the image of the sky clearing up for spring. Usually the day is spent tidying up graves and doing home repairs that the winter prohibits.
New Years Day, Lunar New Year’s Day, Hansik (April 5th), Dano (May 5th) Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) are the ‘five folk holidays’ ordinarily commemorated in North Korea, but are not officially as important as Kim Jong Il’s and Kim Il Sung’s birthdays, which are both celebrated with 3-days of rest.