Travel & Culture

Chuseok: The Korean Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving. My favorite time of the year. Except, this Thanksgiving is one to two months early and lasts for three days. This Thanksgiving my friends is the Korean Thanksgiving called, Chuseok (추석). This year it was on the 14th and ended on the 16th of September. If you are in Korea next year, it will be on October 3rd – 5th. If you are confused by the change of dates, well it is because it is going by the lunar calendar. On the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, Chuseok is held.

Chuseok, just like it is in America, is about the family coming together and is one of the largest and most celebrated holidays. But, not only is it a time for you to take a break from your busy lives to spend time with your family, it is also a time to pay respect to your ancestors. Many people travel to their hometowns, gather at their grandmother’s house (which is what about 95% of my students had done), or they visit where their family originated from.

My research and the already made presentation that I had to give to my kinders, tells me that there are three traditions that are mostly honored that involve respecting their ancestors: charye, seongmyo and beolcho. Charye is a memorial rite that is performed in the morning to honor their ancestors from the past four generations. Seongmyo is when you visit your ancestors grave or urn to pay respects. Bolcho is done during seongmyo if you are visiting a grave site and the headstones are cleaned, weeds are pulled, fresh dirt is raked and fresh new flowers are planted. This represents filial piety, which is something that is highly regarded here and honestly needs to be part of American culture.

Then there is the food, the traditional dances and games, and hanboks. One traditional food to eat is songpyeon. This is something my students and I had made together. Songpyeon is basically a rice cake with red bean paste. It was my first time making it along with my homeroom kinder class. We had a lot of fun making them! Here’s a picture of their masterpiece and please excuse my leg and foot.

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Now for the beautiful traditional wear of Korea: hanboks. There’s not much to say about them, because I think this picture of Red E is enough to get an understanding of them. I just love how they all look like little prince and princesses!

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The pose Red E is in right now is when they are getting ready to do a deep bow.

Here are videos from YouTube showing you how to play yut and also a video about the traditional dance, Ganggangsullae. The children participated in the traditional dance by going around in a circle singing the song and they also had fun playing yut with foam yut pieces as big as them.

As always, thanks for reading! My next post, which will most likely be tomorrow, will be about my visit to Gyeonbokgung Palace and Everland and things you can do as a foreigner during the Chuseok holiday.Now, I shall leave you with a picture of me and one of my students. Until next time!

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