KACEL’s mission is to help Korean and Americans get to know each others’ culture through shared experiences and friendship. What better way to do that than by learning about holidays celebrated in our respective cultures! Below is one KACEL Korean buddy’s experience of 추석 (Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving day). She wrote in hopes that other Korean buddies might share how they celebrate the holiday, so please comment if you have something to add!^^
(Written by KACEL Korean buddy 경미) – As you know Chuseok is Korean Thanksgiving day and is on lunar Aug. 15th. On every 15th of month, we can see full moon. Especially, on Aug. 15th, the biggest full moon of the year appears!! So our ancestors started to make wishes and that turned to be a tradition of Chuseok.
송편 (songpyeon, half-moon-shaped rice cake) is typical food of Chuseok. We can fill inside of the rice cake with chestnut, sesame, honey and bean. There is a superstition about 송편. If you can make good-looking 송편, you can have a cute and pretty daughter!!
In the past, we were poor and there were not many chances to buy new clothes. But on special holidays like 추석 and 설날 (Seolnal, Lunar New Year’s day), we wanted to wear clean and neat clothes. Because those were special days that all big family gathered in one spot!! Therefore there was a tradition to buy new clothes for these holidays. We call those clothes as 추석빔 (chuseokbim), 설빔 (seolbim). Thesedays, it becomes a good excuse for children to buy new clothes on holidays!!
Chuseok could be a stressful day for women. Because there are so many things they have to do for this holiday. 며느리 (daughter-in-law) usually makes whole foods with other daughters-in-law in oldest brothers of husband’s house or mother-in-law’s house. Nowadays, some husbands help them to make foods, but still it is stressful for daughters-in-law. So every big holiday, many mass medias report that this issue.
추석 has three days of holidays. Middle day of these days is real 추석 (Lunar Aug. 15th)!! Usually (in my family’s case), the first day and a half (the first vacation day and half of the actual Chuseok holiday) we stay with father’s side relatives, and the other day and a half (half of real Chuseok and the last vacation day) we stay with mother’s side relatives. So we can meet all members of big family in three days!!
Even you are in the U.S., you can feel the mood of 추석 by making 송편 or by staying with your family or close friends!! Enjoy!!
Note from Saebom, KACEL founder – It’s striking to me that this year 추석 Chuseok falls right around the same time as 9.11. As Korean people spend the day with family and close friends Americans also are commemorating the time with friends and family. If there’s one thing I learned from the Sept 11th tragedy it’s that life is fleeting; you never know if what you take for granted today could all be gone tomorrow. So appreciate and relish what really matters; the friends and family who make it what it is.