K-Culture: Chuseok

While the rest of the world goes on with their daily lives, South Koreans are already on their way preparing for the biggest holiday in their country. Just like Thanksgiving for Americans and Christmas for Filipinos, Chuseok (추석) is one of the biggest and important holidays in Korea. Many Koreans, including our favorite K-celebs, go back to their hometowns and spend the three-day holiday with their families and friends.

Chuseok 101

Korea has three major holidays namely: (1) Seollal (설날) or the Lunar New Year’s Day, (2) Dano (단오) or the 5th day of the 5th Lunar Month, and the Chuseok. The latter can also be referred as hangawi (한가위), which is a combination of the word han (한) which means big and gawi (가위) which means “the ides of the 8th Lunar Month or Autumn.”

Koreans celebrate the second day of the three-day holiday by holding a Chuseok’s Charye (차례) in the morning. Charye is a memorial service in honor of their ancestors. They serve freshly harvested rice, alcohol, and half-moon rice cakes or songpyeon (송편). Some Korean families pay respect to their ancestors through seongmyo (성묘) or a visit to their ancestral graves.

After the service, family members sit down together at the table to enjoy delicious food. As mentioned earlier, the most common food prepared for Chuseok is songpyeon or half-moon rice cakes. Songpyeon is made of glutinous rice and is filled with sesame seeds, beans, red beans, chestnuts, or other nutritious ingredients.

Fun fact: According to old Korean tale, a person who makes beautifully shaped songpyeon will meet a good husband and give birth to a beautiful child.

References: (1)(2)(3)

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