Sunday, February 28, 2010

Celebrating Full Moon Day with 'Yut'

Today is the first full moon of the new year and a time to play. Our small community went to the parish for Mass and Yut competitions between different sections of the parish. Lunar year started on the 14th of Feb. but today is the 15th of the first lunar month and the full moon, a time to celebrate.

Yut was usually played from New Year to the day of the first full moon. It is not as popular as years past, but still you find many in their back yards with the neighbors, dancing, drinking, eating and enjoying the prospects of a pleasant year.

The game of Yut is a board game with four sticks that are flat on one side and round on the other.The sticks are thrown up into the air and the points are determined by the way the sticks fall. You have 4 sticks but the possibility of 5 points. One stick with the flat part up--1 point,(pig)--two sticks with the flat part up-- 2 points, (dog)-- three with the flat part up --3 points, (sheep)-- and Yut would have all 4 flat parts up --for 4 points,(cow)-- and the 4 rounded parts up gives you-- 5 points, (horse). Each team has 4 tokens that signify 4 horses and the aim of the game is to have all four of the horses pass the 29 stations and reach goal out. If one gets a throw with 4 or 5 points, he has another throw. On the board there are possibilities of making your opponent return to the beginners line again. Other interesting facets to the game makes it a great pastime for as many as want to play.

The community returned home from the competition with first prize. One of the joys of watching the game is to see how the players throw the sticks. How much is luck and how much is skill I don't know, but throwing the sticks certainly is a good indication of personality and one's individuality: sounds are uttered, the body is twisted, you have small dance steps celebrating the lay of the sticks if it is what the board and your team mates want.

The game has a long history and was even exported to Japan. Looking up some of the history you can go as deep as you want into what it signifies. There is the Ying and Yang , the 5 primary substances, the constellations, 29 stations, and even remnants of Taoism are present.

A good question to ask those who study the ways of the mind and culture: "Why does our world no longer have time for games of this type?" It may be that the answer lies with the kind of games the world has become addicted to playing: where winning is all important. Yut, instead, reminds us that we all can be winners when winning is measured not by someone losing but by how much of oneself is shared in any collective endeavor among as many others as possible. Winning then becomes incidental to the sharing, and so can be cheered and shared by all.


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