Things to Know About Chuseok, A Korean Holiday

people food table gifts

What is Chuseok (추석)? There are things to know about Chuseok, a Korean holiday known as the thanksgiving day in Korea. It is one of the biggest holidays in Korea, and the other one is Seollal. This is one of the most important Korean holidays because it is the way the to say thank you to the ancestors for having a plentiful harvest.  Chuseok is also known as Hangawi which celebrates during 15th of August in the lunar calendar. The female members of the family usually do the preparation for the “charye“, an ancestral memorial ceremony.

Things to Know About Chuseok

Ceremony: Charye  (차례)

table with foods charye
[Photo Credit: gr22nade]

 

An ancestral memorial ceremony held during the second day of Chuseok. It is usually done in the morning where all the family members most especially the male members will do the memorial service to their ancestors thru a bow. Each food has its own significance and proper place on the table. Red-colored fruits are placed on the fifth row east side while the white-colored fruits on the west side. Fish are placed the second row east side and meat are placed at the west side. A dried fish called “포” (Po) placed at the fourth-row left side and “sikhye” (a Korean sweet rice drink) on the right side. On the fifth row from the left side, jujube, chestnut, pear are placed.

Food: Songpyeon (송편)

songpyeon
[Photo Credit: ymju1000]

 

During holidays, there are special foods to be eaten like in Chuseok, Koreans eat Songpyeon (송편). Songpyeon is a traditional rice cake made of rice powder. It is made in different colors with a half-moon shape and with sweet fillings. Old people say whenever you make a beautiful moon shaped songpyeon you will have a beautiful baby girl. Koreans served songpyeon at the Charye (차례 )in saying thank you to their ancestors.

Full Moon: Making Wishes

full moon

During Chuseok, watching the full moon and making a wish is one of the traditional practices in Korea.

Games: Ganggangsulae, Ssireum

ganggangsulae girls in circle
[Photo Credit: wldms7569]

 

Chuseok is not just about traditional ceremonies but also it’s time to play. Most women cannot go outside most of the times. But, during Chuseok they form a big circle and hold hands while rotating clockwise under the brightest full moon, it is called Ganggangsulae.

Ssireum 2 men fighting
[Photo credit: kyr2418156]

 

Ssireum (씨름) is also one of the traditional games during Chuseok. It is composed of two opponents who wrestle while holding each other’s belts, called ‘Satba (샅바)’. To win, the player must bring down his opponent to the sand.

What to expect during Chuseok?

  • Traffic jam – Most of the families are going to the provinces so going out of Seoul will surely be traffic.
  • Ticket Reservations are tight – Koreans always book their KTX tickets earlier to avoid running out of tickets when the holiday approaches.
  • Fruits, Chuseok Gifts are in demand – Family members always prepare Chuseok gifts like fruits (in boxes), kitchen seasonings, toiletries, special beef, and others.
  • Bus Terminals and KTX are crowded – As the holiday approaches expect that bus terminals and KTX are crowded.
  • Palaces are free entrance – One good news for those who don’t have families to celebrate the holiday or for tourists.
  • Some restaurants and shops are CLOSED – Expect that during holidays some restaurants, shops are closed.
  • Themed Parks are 50% off – Since most Korean families stay at home to prepare and celebrate Chuseok all together, theme parks offer discount coupons and sometimes 50% off. This is to let the families enjoy the said holiday too.
  • Busy daughters-in-law – Being married to a Korean man, expect that during this holiday you need to do the cooking, serving and dishwashing.
  • Lastly, for daughters-in-law, DO NOT EXPECT THAT YOU WILL YOU RECEIVED A GIFT to avoid disappointment.

What to do and where to go?

Every Korean family in Korea will be like a busy bee during the holiday, as a tourist you may try some activities like having a Korean Palace Tour and going to Namsangol Hanok Village is one of the most visited attraction during Chuseok.

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