Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chuseok (추석)

This weekend in Korea is Chuseok, it includes the Monday also so we have a three day holiday at this time.  The actual day of Chuseok this year is Sunday the 30th September.

Also this year Wednesday is another Korean holiday so most schools have given the Tuesday as a holiday too.  This means that we get a five day holiday including the Saturday and Sunday which is very nice.
What is Chuseok?

Chuseok is one of the most important holidays in the Korean year and is often referred to as the Korean Thanksgiving.

It is traditionally a harvest festival which is celebrated on the brightest full moon of the year (it is the 15th day of the 8th month on the lunar calendar - the date changes every year).  In modern Korea families return their ancestral hometowns, there are traditional activities such as ancestor worship rituals and visiting tombs to tidy and clean them. Many of these kind of pastimes are still a big part of Chuseok. Some people still participate in traditional folk games whereas others may simply spend time with family, talking, playing card games or watching TV.
Food is a big part of the celebrations and families will prepare a big feast with meats, fish, vegetables, sweet rice, dumplings and fruit.  The traditional beverage for Chuseok is rice wine.

One of the most well know food dishes for Chuseok is Songpyeong (송편), and is a rice cake. It is made with rice powder dough and filled with things like beans, chestnuts or sesame. It is then steamed with pine needles. Songpyeong is usually shaped in a crescent - tradition says that you make a wish as you fill the Songpyeong and then fold it into the crescent so the wish does not fall out. There is also a Korean saying that a person that makes beautiful Songpyeong will have a good spouse and children.

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