Chuseok: Korean Thanksgiving Day
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What is Chuseok?
This year of 2021, Chuseok will be celebrated from Sep 20th (Mon) to Sep 22nd (Wed). These days are public holiday dates in South Korea.
Thanksgiving is usually celebrated around the world; in Chinese culture, it will be the Mooncake festival.
In Korea, Chuseok (추석) is one of the most significant public holidays in Korea, together with Seollal or the Korean New Year. It falls on the 15th of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, on the day of the harvest moon (the largest full moon of the year) and it lasts three days, including the day before and the day after the set date. Hence, Chuseok is meant to celebrate the autumn harvest.
During this holiday, most Koreans return to their hometowns to visit and spend time with their families, many shops outside will be closed too.
On the morning of Chuseok, another important ritual is holding an ancestral ritual. Korean families pay respects to their ancestors by placing various foods (rice, meat, rice cakes, soup, fruits, vegetables) and drinks, like Korean rice wine on a table in front of pictures of the deceased, to thank them and ask them to continue to watch over the family, hoping for prosperity. Although nowadays this ritual is held at home, it can be held at the graveyard.
Some families will even wear the traditional costume (Hanbok) to head for visiting. Going back to your hometown empty-handed for Chuseok is a big no-no, so Koreans always make sure to get some gifts.
The younger family members usually bow or give simple sayings to the elders to show their gratitude and in response, the elders will give some pocket money.
The tradition is not complete without some traditional games but also food! Half-moon-shaped rice cakes filled with a variety of healthy ingredients such as sweet red beans, sugar and sesame seeds, pine nuts, honey, and a variety types of Pancake (Jeon) are enjoyed.