Saturday, September 6, 2014

Half Moon Harvest(Chuseok) Or Mid Autumn Or Thanks Giving Festival in Korea.

ChuseokChuseok is often referred to as “Korean Thanksgiving,” but that’s not a very accurate descriptor, seeing as how Chuseok predates the American and Canadian holidays by over a millennium. Although its origins aren’t clearly known, modern Chuseok is a harvest festival, and South Korean families celebrate it by performing a number of rituals centered around the morning of Chuseok, this year the Friday. They typically show up the night before so the women can spend all day cooking while the men relax. And then in the morning they perform the ancestral rite known as Charye, after which it’s all over and they can return home.

Chuseok is the time when K-pop idols go home to spend time with their family, friends, eat lots of delicious food, as well as relax and take time off from work or school. Thousands of people from different provinces of South Korea go back to their respective homes during this holiday. Airports, trains, as well as roads are packed with people going home to enjoy some leisure time.
For many K-pop fans; especially the new ones, this can be a new culture and one that you are probably unfamiliar with. So here is a special section about what this holiday is and what the stars are going home for.
Chuseok is one of the four major holidays that are celebrated in South Korea. It is referred sometimes as the "Korean Thanskgiving", "Hangawi", "Jungchujul", or "Gabe" and is celebrated when the full moon is at its brightest which occurs on the 15th day of the eighth month on the lunar calendar which falls between September to early October on the solar calendar. Unlike Western society, South Korean people still uses the lunar calendar when it comes time for important dates; which is why there are so many holidays centered around the moon as 2014, Chuseok landed on September 6th and for the year 2014, the holiday will be celebrated on September 6th. It is a celebration of great harvest because during this year as well as time, grains and fruits will be ripe as well as fresh for harvesting.
So to celebrate a year of successful farming and like I mentioned earlier, families will pack up and head home to their ancestral hometowns. The name of this is "Bon-ga" is it basically means "main house." Though it is usually the home of their oldest or the head of the household which is the grandparents or parents.
When they go back home, the stars will wear colorful traditional clothes, cook delicious food, and pay their respects to their past away ancestors.
So you probably or at least know that paying respect for the elderly is a highly imperative trait for Korean people. The holiday is not just simply just for feast celebrations. There are three important major duties that must be done during this holiday which are Sungmyo, Bulcho, and Charye.
A crucial part of Chuseok is the traditional food, but the traditional Korean folk games that have been passed down through the generations and traditional Korean dresshanbok are also equally important as people were hanbok and enjoy the day as well as in the night they play the traditional games.
As  Chuseok falls on August 15th in the Asian Calendar Year. During Chuseok, when the moon is full people in Korea believe if people make a wish to the moon, supposedly it will come true. So next time it is August 15th, Chuseok, and the moon is full make a wish you never know it just might come true.

These days, Chuseok has lost a lot of its true meaning, with fewer and fewer people holding ancestral rites, and preparing smaller amounts of food to put on ritual tables and to share. But one thing remains the same about Chuseok, it is still a time of the year when family and relatives travel long distances to get together and pay their respects to their ancestors.

Although Chuseok is technically only one day, it is always buffered by a statutory day off before and after. You see, out of a sense of filial piety, the vast majority of Korean people return to their hometowns for Chuseok. And if you look at population trends in South Korea’s modern history, you’ll see that a good chunk of the Seoul and metro area citizens aren’t living in what they’d call their hometowns. So, they all hit the road to visit their ancestral lands. Those days off are essentially traffic jam days for holiday commuters. Train and bus tickets are booked a month in advance, and travelling by road anywhere in Korea is likely to take more than twice the normal amount of time it would.over two million cars were estimated to have left Seoul for Chuseok, containing however many more passengers. Already, that’s more cars leaving the city than actual people leaving in 1950 during the two evacuations of Seoul.
If  you want know briefly about during on the day ...
Day 1: Food Preparation
The first day of Chuseok holiday is usually spent in preparing food for the ancestral rites (charye) on Chuseok day. Andy and I spent the whole afternoon making jeon (pancake-like dishes)! A million thanks to the sweetest and the most helpful husband in the universe. He makes my role as myeoneuri a less stressful and wonderful journey!
Day 2: Chuseok Day
Korean families traditionally view filial piety and respect for one’s elders as the highest virtue, deriving from the Confucian tradition. The elders are highly respected and yes, even when they’re already dead. On Chuseok day, most Korean families hold charye, a ritual in which traditional dishes are offered to celebrate a good harvest and pay respect to their ancestors. I woke up early in the morning to prepare the food and set up the charye table for the ceremony. My mom-in-law was so happy and proud of me. Waaah! I’m so proud of myself too! 
Day 3: A Visit to My Shi-Abeoji & Book Shopping
We were supposed to visit the cemetery in Namyangju yesterday but everyone was so tired  so we went there this morning. We just offered prayers and flowers and headed back to Seoul. Andy and my mom-in-law headed home while I dropped by Gyobo Bookstore in Gwanghwamun to buy some copies of the Korean version of Paolo Coelho’s Adultery to give to my Korean friends. I went to Caffe Bene and enjoyed my “Me Time” before going home. :-)

During this long weekend, let Seoul or any part of the capital city region connected by subway be your destination. And if you’re outside Seoul, now’s a great time to join us here, as you won’t have to worry about traffic.Do you remember the Michael Bay movie Independence Day, when Jeff Goldblum’s character is trying to get to the White House while everyone’s evacuating DC? It looks exactly like that.
7 things to do Customs followed during the Chuseok Holidays..
The hallmark of Chuseok is the solemn remembrance of ancestors. In Korean culture, it is considered an honor and duty to pay homage to the shrines of  forefathers.
After people arrive at their hometowns (usually to grandparents’ house or if they have passed away, to the first son of the family), the ladies of the house has prepared a table to honor and respect the ancestors. Usually food (fruits, meat, canned tuna) or money (in the form of department store gift certificates) are exchanged to mark the happy season.On the morning of Chuseok Day, Songpyeon (Korean rice cake) and other food prepared with the year's fresh harvest are set out to give thanks to the ancestors through Charye (ancestor memorial service) . Family visit their ancestors graves and engaged in Beolcho, a ritual of clearing the weeds that may have grown up over the burial mound. After sunset, families and friends take a walks and gaze at the beauty of the full moon and play folk games such as Ganggangsullae (Korean circle dance).

1,Major Duties
A) Sungmyo is when respect is paid to their ancestor's grave which is often in the form of bowing before it is offered alcohol, fruits, meat, and shikhye.
B) Bulcho is the weeds and anything that has grown around the graves of their family members all throughout the summer. The family will go to their past away ancestor grave and pick up the weeds and anything around it to discard. Keeping the grave of their past away family is necessary. Plus, this is an important task for families in Korea as well as all Asian society in general, places an huge emphasis on saving face before the public. Basically this means that even though your dead, the grave of yours needs to look good since your tombstone is out in the public; this is why it is important to keep it clean.
Plus, graves with weeds around them after the Chuseok holiday assumes that the passed away ancestor has undutiful children which is considered embarrassing for the family. So this is why all Korean as well as Asian people does this.
C) Charye is the last important duty and this is an elaborate table setting of food that is offered to the ancestors at home. There are a few several meticulous steps to setting and doing this properly. One is lighting candles before the alcohol is poured in exactly three different cups and bowing twice after it. Also, each dish has a specific area of the table on where it needs to go.
So, once all of these three important tasks are completed, it is time to relax and play some games. Though the games are outdated and families usually and normally gather for drinks as well as to chat after dinner, these games are still put on display at public events.
A) Kangkangsullae is a game specifically for the women where several dozens will gather under the moon and dance in a circle by linking arms.
2) Sonori or Geobuknori is a game where two people will wear a cape made of hanji which is Korean traditional paper made from the mulberry trees and will run around town under the guise of a cow or turtle by going house to house asking for food. The food that is given, will be shared with families who cannot afford Chuseok meals. Closeness and love to everyone is what Chuseok is about.
Other games include wrestling, tug of war, and archery.
Songpyeon is one of the food items that Koreans love when they go back home. So, when your favorite music stars go home, this is what they are looking forward to as well because it is so delicious.
Songpyeon is one of the foods that are served during this holiday. It is made from the newly harvested rice and is small, crescent shaped rice cake that contains either red beans, chestnuts, jujubes, powdered sesame or just brown sugar.
Now Koreans do this when they make songpyeon which is to make a wish as they scoop in the contents and carefully fold it up into a crescent shape so that they wish does not fall out. You can do this as well if you want to make songpyeon. Also, the elders will often nag to shape them as beautiful as possible because there is a saying that if you make your songpyeon very pretty as possible in-terms of shape, the prettier your future daughter will be. So make it pretty as you can.
3. Amusement Parks
EverlandLotte World, and Seoul Land always have special cultural events during Chuseok. As well as the holiday programs, you can also expect many of these parks to spring for discounts for foreigners (and in most cases the Koreans who accompany them). The amusement parks will be crowded, moreso than usual. As well, if Everland is your destination, I highly recommend taking the Yongin Everline, because you can still expect traffic out in the suburbs that could eat up a few hours of your amusement-riding day.
2. Historic sites
97The four main palaces of downtown Seoul — as well as Jongmyo Shrine and the Joseon Royal Tombs — will be open free of admission if you manage to show up wearing traditional Korean Hanbok clothes. As well,Namsangol Hanok Village will have free Chuseok festivities including tteok-making and charye ancestral rites on Monday and Tuesday. The Korean Folk Village in Yongin also has a special Chuseok program, but I would not trust any buses around that area any time this weekend. You can catch the Bundang Line all the way to Sanggal Station now, which puts you a short taxi ride away from the village.
4. Museums
Some museums will be closed for the long weekend, but you can count on the National Folk Museum, the National Museum of Korea, the Korean War Memorial in Yongsan, and the Seoul Museum of History to remain open.
The National Folk Museum, on the eastern edge of Gyeongbokgung, offers a full program from Saturday through to Tuesday with over 50 events. Events range in theme from traditional Korean culture to the culture of Korea’s many immigrant populations, this year in particular the Philippines and Uzbekistan.
The National Museum Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul has its own program from Sunday to Wednesday, with an outdoor musical performance on the first day at 17:00.
5. Little Russia
Golubsky at an Uzbekistan restaurantGwanghee-dong, a quaint neighbourhood on the corner of Dongdaemun Market, is a well-known multicultural enclave catering mainly to the peoples of the former Soviet republics, including mainly Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. This area takes on a new life this weekend, as it is suddenly populated by migrant workers from these countries. A great time to visit and try some exotic foreign foods, and you can be assured that the restaurants will not be closing for this busy weekend.
6. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
hwaseongOr you can leave the city by metro and visit Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, combining historical attraction with a robust climb up an inner-city mountain. But it’s probably safest to do this before Chuseok, as you don’t want to be overwhelmed by traffic heading back to Seoul on your way home (assuming you’re living in Seoul). As a bonus, you can get almost all the way there by subway.
7,Yongyu Island
Eulwangri is one of many beaches just a quick busride from Yongyu Temporary Station. Yes, there are beaches accessible on the Seoul Metro line, so there’s no need to fight traffic for two days just for a small patch of sand on one of Busan’s beaches. The AREX airport line offers trains out past Incheon International Airport to Yongyu Temporary Station, where you’ll be close to a number of West Sea beaches. The train runs ten times a day, starting from 7:29am departing Seoul until the last one departing Yongyu at 7:31pm. We had a very weak summer this year, but there’s still enough of a chance we’ll have another day hot enough for beach weather before the long weekend is over. Even if not, the beaches here are great for having a barbecue and spending the night in a pension.
Now you know what this special holiday is and what your idols are looking forward to each year.
The staff at Ajmal Khan wishes everyone in Samsung Engineering staff in South Korea and around the world.I wish all the Korea blog reader as well as my blog readers a very hearty " Happy Cheosok or Hangawi or Mid antum day 2014 !".
Prepared & Collection by M.Ajmal Khan.

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