What is Chuseok? A Korean Holiday

By James Buhain | September 20, 2013 11:59 AM EDT

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 well as its cycle.

2013, Chuseok landed on September 19th and for the year 2014, the holiday will be celebrated on September 8th. 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.

Major Duties

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.


1) 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.

Now you know what this special holiday is and what your idols are looking forward to each year.

The staff at KpopStarz wishes everyone in South Korea "Happy Chuseok 2013!"

Tagged :  chuseok


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