National Foundation Day (개천절)

Oct. 3 is National Foundation Day (romanized as “gaecheonjeol”) in Korea. Legend has it that Gojoseon, the first state of the Korean nation, was formed on the third day of the 10th lunar month in 2333 BC. But today, for convenience sake, the foundation of Korea is celebrated on the third day of the 10th according to the solar calendar.

Gaecheonjeol” means “Heaven-opened Day,” which fits the legend of Dangun coming down from heave to establish the Korean kingdom.

The earliest record of the Dangun legend is found in the Samguk Yusa, or Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, which is a collection of legends, folktales, and historical accounts. It was compiled at the end of the 13th century. I’ll likely post more on the Samguk Yusa at a later day.

As I mentioned last year, you can find this legend numerous places online or possibly in children’s storybook form. Our son loves the story of the tiger and bear and how one became human. It would be great day to read the account of Dangun and if you have the right cookie cutters, make cookies in the shapes of Korea, tigers, and bears.

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