Traditions of Korea: Chuseok

By Andrea Villarreal

Everyone around the world celebrates gratitude in different ways with their unique cultural practices, the food brought out only on this special occasion, and the way people gather.  For those in the west, Thanksgiving is a special day to gather with family and friends to celebrate the things in our lives that go unnoticed. Korea also celebrates gratitude with a holiday known Chuseok, once referred to as Hangawi. This is all you need to know about Korea’s “Thanksgiving,” Chuseok!

Chuseok does not have an official celebration date as it changes each year, always falling between September and October. This year, it starts on September 12, 2019. The holiday is celebrated over three days, making the celebration of their ancestors last from the 12th to the 14th of September. 

  • Preparation

Each family prepares differently for this holiday, but many on the morning of Chuseok, gathering to hold a memorial service called Charye in honour of their ancestors. As they gather, many bring offerings, some items brought are freshly harvested rice, alcohol and songpyeon (half-moon rice cake)

  • Practices

Seongymo - visiting ancestral graves, many family members take this visit and remove any weeds around the grave as a sign of respect. Memorial services are also held in honour of their ancestors.

  • Food

Food is always something many look forward to when celebrating a holiday. For Chuseok, these items are sure to be found in any family’s gathering. Songpyeon, a rice cake smaller than a golf ball made from rice powder and filled with sesame seeds, red beans, and chestnuts! Other foods include jeon, a Korean pancake made from any ingredient coated in flour and egg then pan-fried in oil, and for beverages, any traditional liquor is served. 

Chuseok is a holiday to honour and be grateful for the ancestors, it brings families together for a day of respect and peace. Being able to enjoy the presence of those around you and also celebrate the presence of those no longer with us is something to surely look forward to.

Chuseok is slowly approaching, how many of you will be celebrating? 

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Written by Andrea Villarreal

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