This weekend Koreans will be celebrating the annual festival of Chuseok, from Sunday 23rd September to Tuesday 25th September.
The festival was originally called Hangawi, and it falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, during the full moon. It’s a kind of autumn harvest festival, but most events revolve around eating special foods, paying homage to one’s ancestors, and visiting family. Many people – an estimated 36 million this year – will travel back to their hometowns during these public holidays. Many regular TV shows usually have special Chuseok editions, and idols often record a special greeting for fans – sometimes in hanbok!
Charye is a memorial service held at private homes to honour one’s ancestors, and Seongmyo is a visit to the ancestral graves. While many traditional sweets are eaten at this time, the special food of Chuseok is songpyeon, a colourful rice cake stuffed with sesame seeds or sweet bean paste. Wash it down with sindoju, a freshly-pressed rice liquor.
If you’re in Korea this weekend, you may be able to catch some fun and traditional public events. There’s samulnori (traditional percussion quartette), talchum (a mask dance), and ssireum (traditional Korean wrestling). THere’s also Ganggangsullae, a traditional circular-style dance performed by women in hitched-up hanbok.
Hear more about personal experiences of Chuseok from Hyunwoo and Cassie at Talk to Me in Korean.