How Did Koreans Traditionally Spend Chuseok?

What Chuseok Traditionally Meant to Koreans

Back in the day, Chuseok* was a much bigger holiday compared to today’s as everything was more scarce, from food to clothes. On the Chuseok holiday, people erased a difficult reality in their mind for a while and enjoyed the festive holiday. We’ve come up with the three keywords describing the traditional Chuseok.

“Respect to the Ancestors”

“Endless Foods”

“New clothes”

*Chuseok is a holiday giving thanks for the harvest at the end of the year. It’s considered one of the biggest holidays in Korea.

Respect to the ancestors : 1. Cutting the weeds

Before the Chuseok holiday, families and relatives set a date to go to a cemetery and cut the weeds around a grave. If the graveyard were not clean on Chuseok, it would be considered a graveyard doesn’t have any descendants or have undutiful descendants.

Respect to the ancestors : 2. Visiting the ancestors’ grave

Families visit to take care of their ancestors’ graves. They usually bring foods and drinks that their ancestors enjoyed in their living years.

Some families visit twice: to cut the weeds before the Chuseok holiday and to visit again on the day of the Chuseok. Some families visit just once.

Respect to the ancestors : 3. Ancestral Rites

In the morning of Chuseok, families gather in front of the table that has all the foods for ancestral rites and the plaque that has the names of ancestors.

The foods are offered to the ancestors and usually include fruits, Korean pancakes, rice cakes, and dried fish.

The process can be quite complicated, but long story short, the family bow down twice, wait a bit for the ancestors to “eat the food”, and share the food with everyone.

Endless Foods

“As much as the table legs would break apart”

Back in the days, people couldn’t always have meals with numerous side dishes.

Chuseok was one of the few days that everyone can enjoy meals to the fullest. A lot of families shared food with each other.

Koreans say that the table legs will break apart because there are so many dishes on the table.

New Clothes

It was the time of the year when all the children get new clothes. Because of that, many children had long waited for Chuseok to come 🙂

Because Chuseok was a big holiday when all the families gathered around, an appropriate outfit was needed for children. Also, it was the right timing to get warmer clothes as the season changes from summer to fall.

Before modern days, children received new Hanbok, Korean traditional clothes. In the mid to late 1900s, regular clothes were preferred.

???? Question for UoH friends :

Does your country have a similar holiday as Chuseok? If so, what are some activities you do on the holiday?

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