Celebrating My First Chuseok in South Korea
I love experiencing foreign customs and celebrations first hand. When I moved to South Korea in May this year, I had the opportunity to observe “Buddha’s Birthday”, one of the biggest holidays in the country. This time in September, it was finally Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving, which is probably the most important festivity of the year here. Here are some of the things that were going on during the holiday.
First Things First: What is Chuseok?
Interestingly, Chuseok 추석 is during the same time as Chinese Mid-Autumn festival and both of these festivals signify the time of the year when crops are harvested. If you would like to see how the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in China, take a look at my previous post. Both Chinese and Koreans honor their ancestors during this celebration and get together with they relatives.
Chuseok is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, around the autumn equinox.
It’s traditional for people, mostly children,to dress in the traditional Korean dress called Hanbok 한복. At my English academy in Cheongju, we held a Korean Thanksgiving event for our kindergarten students. It was a 5 hour workshop event where we had different programs such as: making lanterns and kites, playing traditional Korean games and learning how to deep bow. The best part of the event was that all of the little kids wore Hanbok of all different kinds and colors. It was super adorable!
Just like American Thanksgiving, the Korean version also emphasized good food. The whole family gets together and prepares the food together, sometimes as many as 15 different dishes. However, there is one food that is especially common during Chuseok and that is Songpyeon, a sweet treat made of rice powder with different fillings.
Jeongsu and I made songpyeon ourselves! It’s super easy, make sure you check out our video guide!
Meeting The Family
This Chuseok, I had the opportunity to meet new family members of Jeongsu’s. It was a great way to get to know his relatives more and see what it will be like for our future festivals. The family prepared food together and had a nice dinner. I felt welcome and it was a very interesting experience!