Chuseok: A Korean Holiday of Thanks.

Chuseok is a major Korean holiday that is celebrated as a feast of thanksgiving. Much like the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, Chuseok is celebrated with family and friends, and is a time to celebrate the bounty of the year, thank the ancestors and look forward to fortunes of a new year. Chuseok is also called Hangawi and falls on the fifteenth day of August on the lunar calendar. Han means great and Gawi means middle, which is appropriate as Chuseok/Hangawi occurs in the middle of August.

Foods of Chuseok

Delicious foods are plentiful during the Chuseok celebration. It is the time to celebrate the harvest of plenty. The staple dish during this time is songpyeon. This is a dish of steamed ddeok which is made of rice and filled with a sweet stuffing of beans, sesame seeds or chestnuts. This dish is made by the entire family on the Chuseok Eve. Chuseok is celebrated by drinking the traditional “Hundred Years Drink” made of rice.

Visiting of Ancestral Graves

One of the ways people celebrate Chuseok is to visit ancestral grave sites. This is known as seongmyo. Maintenance, such as removing weeds from the ancestor’s gravesites is called beolchoand those that practice it are seen as showing great devotion to their ancestors.

Chuseok Ancestral Memorial Service

There are many celebrations that take place during Chuseok. One is a memorial service for the ancestors. This memorial service is held on the morning of Chuseok at the descendants house. This service is called charye. At this formal dinner, harvested rice is served as all the family members gather together to eat and acknowledge their blessings.

Chuseok Wrestling Competition

On Chuseok, villagers come to show who the strongest of the village is in a wrestling match called ssireum. The wrestling matches take place on a sand and the competitions continue until the strongest Korean is named.

Korean Circle Dance

The Korean Circle Dance or ganggangsullae has been passed down from mother to daughter since the Josean Dynasty. Dressed in Hanbok, mothers and daughters form a circle to sing and dance. This dance was performed during the Japanese invasion and was used to trick the Japanese into thinking the Korean military was a mightier foe