Chuseok – The Biggest Korean National Holiday

In different parts of the world, Christmas or New Year’s Eve is the biggest event or holiday of the year. But in South Korea, it’s Chuseok, a harvest festival that lasts for three days. This year, Chuseok will be from September 18th (Wednesday) to the 20th (Friday).

I’m not going to bore you with history, so I’ll go straight to how South Koreans celebrate this holiday. Traditionally, South Koreans go back to their hometown to pay their respects to their ancestors. They do this by cleaning and decorating their tomb, bowing to them, and offering them food. This is done by all the members of the family, even kids.

As for food, South Koreans prepare “sungpyeon” or rice cakes. Some of these treats are sweet, and some of them are salty. Aside from “sungpyeon,” other food items on the table include fruits, “japchae,” and “bulgogi.”

Children love this holiday for at least two reasons. For one, they can go back to their parents’ hometown where their grandparents live. They can also see and play with their cousins, and they can see their favorite uncles or aunts. Second, as per tradition, Chuseok is the time when they can get lots of money. They bow to their grandparents, uncles, and aunts, and they’re given a small, red envelope with money in it.

Mothers, on the other hand, have mixed feelings about this holiday. Though this holiday is an excuse for the whole family to be together, mothers don’t like it because this means “work” for them. Not only are they in charge of preparing food, but they’re also responsible for cleaning everything after the festivities are over. So even if they want to rest, they can’t.

Men, though, have a different feeling. They like this holiday because to them, Chuseok means that they can totally rest. They can forget about their job in the office, their demanding bosses, and all the stress that everyday life brings.
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