What is Chuseok?
Chuseok, also known as Korean Thanksgiving Day, is one of the most important and festive holidays of the year.This year, Chuseok falls on Thursday, September 29th, but the holiday period actually lasts for three days in total – including the day before and after Chuseok. Traditionally, Koreans return to their ancestral hometowns to celebrate with their families, causing one of the biggest traffic jams of the year as people often take to the road to reach the provinces outside of Seoul.
Special Food - Songpyeon
Koreans celebrate Chuseok by making special foods, particularly a certain kind of rice cake called songpyeon. Songpyeon is made with finely ground new rice and the dough is kneaded into small round shapes and filled with sesame seeds, chestnuts, red beans, or other similar ingredients. The rice cakes are arranged upon layers of pine needles as they are steamed, filling the home with the delicate and fresh fragrance of autumn. On the eve of Chuseok, family members gather to make songpyeon together, illustrating the importance of family in Korean society.
What are some Chuseok traditions?
Traditionally, the purpose of Chuseok was for family members to gather together during the full harvest moon. This usually appeared in the sky on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Families wanted to celebrate and show gratitude to their ancestors for the fruitful harvest.
Another Tradition - Gift giving
Another Chuseok tradition in modern-day Korea is that of gift-giving. Koreans will present gifts to not only their relatives, but also to friends and business acquaintances to show their thanks and appreciation. Some customary gift ideas are high-quality cuts of beef, fresh fruit such as apples, and gift sets of everything from traditional Korean snacks to useful items like shampoo.
If you look around supermarkets and department stores before Chuseok, you will no doubt encounter a huge variety of gift sets on sale. Spam, which is extremely popular in Korea, is actually one of the most popular gift sets to present to those near and dear to you.
As Chuseok brings families together, sharing gratitude and love, may this cherished tradition continue to foster unity and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of South Korea for generations to come. Happy Chuseok!