Both holidays focus on bringing family together and giving thanks for all the good that has happened. But, if you happen to be away from your family - and living in Korea - there are a few things you should know and expect to see at Chuseok.
As a celebration of the good harvest, Koreans visit their ancestral hometowns for three days (the day before, of and after thee holiday) and share a meal with their families. What makes it a formal holiday is that each home sets a ceremonial table with different kinds of food and rice wine for their ancestors. Many will even travel to the grave sites of their loved ones, remove all debris and pay their respects.
Because this is a major holiday, you may see a lot of people wearing hanboks.
Hanbok is the traditional garb worn during major holidays, weddings and birthdays. It is often easy to recognise as it is usual made of silk in vibrant colors and simple lines without pockets. Many of our idols have worn hanboks during their first major holidays together. Back in 2009, f(x) - and many other groups - shared pictures of each other in hanboks for their first Chuseok together.
2. Because the majority of people leave Seoul to visit their hometowns during Chuseok, the usually bustling city will seem deserted.
This may be a good thing for some, but for others it may not because the majority of shops will be closed. If you want to eat out, you won’t have many options outside of chain restaurants. But, if you have been a little timid in the big city, you can let go of all inhibitions and dance around town like this couple did during their first chuseok.
A lot of museums and palaces offer special chuseok programs. Some of the traditional games you can enjoy there are Neolttwigi (seesaw jumping), Tuho Deonjigi (arrow throwing), and Jegichagi (tassel kicking). You may even see traditional dance performances. And if you visit a palace dressed in a hanbok, you can get in for free.
In the days before and after chuseok, a few shows will host special episodes that talk about chuseok or even play some of the traditional games. Last year we got to see special episodes of shows like “I Am A Singer,” “Star Couple Challenge,” and “Protect the Boss: X-files” as well as the Idol Star Athletics Championship and a few concerts. Let’s hope this year is just as good.
One in particular is songpyeon - half-moon shaped rice cakes (dduk) that are only eaten during chuseok. These are made by hand either the day before or the day of chuseok and are often shared between families. Most of them will have either a sweet or semi-sweet filling made with sesame seeds and honey, sweet red bean paste, and chestnut paste and are steamed over a layer of pine needles to make them fragrant.
Hopefully, this will help you get through your first chuseok - whether you are alone or celebrating with family. Is there anything you are looking forward to about Chuseok this year?
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