Dating back to the Han Dynasty, the Lantern Festival is held on the evening of the first full moon of the new year. One story explains that it began when villagers started celebrating the anniversary of their deliverance from the Jade Emperor in Heaven’s threat of destruction by a storm of fire. Angered by townspeople killing his favorite goose, the Jade Emperor was about to burn the village to the ground. The people were saved when a good-hearted fairy told them to light lanterns throughout the town. From the Heavens, it looked as if the village was ablaze. Satisfied that his goose had already been avenged, the Jade Emperor decided not to send the threatened firestorm. From that day on, they ended new year celebrations by carrying lanterns of different shapes and colors through the streets on the first full moon of the year, providing a spectacular backdrop for the traditional festive lion dances, dragon dances, and fireworks. In the 21st century, this tradition continues, and celebrations are even more spectacular when modern technology is added to the mix of traditional lantern lights.
Many Asian cultures celebrate the first full moon of the new year with moon-shaped dumplings and glutinous rice. The wonderful grass-fed range beef available at the Culver City Farmers Market is perfect for the Boolgogi which adds a rich, hearty flavor to the traditional Korean New Year’s dish of Dduk Gook (rice cake soup). Dave’s Korean Food, which has a stand on the east side of Main Street just north of all the prepared food stands, offers an incredible selection of kim chee and banchan (side dishes) to round out your meal.
The Culver City Farmers Market is held each Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. on Main Street between Culver and Venice Boulevards.
Katie Malich has tried Boolgogi tacos from one of LA’s trendy Korean taco truck but, given the choice, would much rather have her Boolgogi in the Korean rice cake soup.