What is Dano?
Dano (端午, May 5th of the lunar calendar) is one of the major traditional festivals in Korea along with Sŏrnal (New Years Day, lunar calendar) and the harvest festival Ch’usŏk (August 15th, lunar calendar). Dano usually falls in early to mid June as measured on the solar calendar, a moment when spring turns into summer and when yang energy is at its peak. It represents a significant turning point in agriculture when farmers have just finished seeding and planting. The day thus marks the beginning of the growing season.
Celebrating May 5th by the lunar calendar is a shared tradition among East Asian countries, but the activities differ widely. The Korean celebration includes traditional outdoor and indoor activities including swinging, wrestling, making special cakes containing spring herbs, washing hair with balsam, and giving gifts of fans for use in the coming summer.
The tradition appears in some well-known art works from the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910): in the eighteenth century painting by Shin Yun-bok, and in the “Story of Ch’unhyang”, a famous love story circulated both through written text and through an oral performance tradition called p’ansori.