Chuseok: Korean Thanksgiving
Background on Informant:
Currently a student, my informant grew up in a Korean household and has shared with me the many traditions she grew up practicing and experienced throughout her life.
“In Korea we have this ‘holiday’ called Chuseok, which translates to ‘Autumn eve’. It is celebrated on August 15th as it usually is a full moon on the lunar calendar and goes on for three days. It is kind of like a harvest festival and can be said to be an equivalent to the American Thanksgiving.
Because we live in the USA and not Korea, we don’t follow the tradition to a tee, as it would require us to go to our hometown to visit our ancestors.
Instead we hang up pictures of our dead relatives and bow down to their pictures as a sign of respect and ask them for guidance or luck.
After our version of this ‘ancestral worship’ we have a huge feast which includes: Songpyeon (rice cake), Jeon (Korean pancake), Japchae (noodle dish), and many others.
Sometimes we have relatives or family friends who give us gifts but this one is more of a modern custom that hasn’t been around for that long.
I love celebrating it, I think it really helps implement my Korean identity, and it’s a really fun tradition.”
Before this interview, I did not know much about the Chuseok celebration, but was indeed intrigued after hearing my informant tell me about her experiences. As a first generation American myself, I know firsthand the struggle of trying to retain your cultural identity, and how typical traditions have had to morph somewhat into the American ideals. I love how even though her family can’t be in Korea they have developed their own version on how to celebrate that I find beautiful and heart-warming. I like how they continue to practice this in order to preserve their heritage and customs and how it has played an important part in my informants’ life and her connection to her culture. Overall, I love this tradition and how even though it has a long past, it continues to be practiced and the honor that is given to ancestors as a means of wisdom and remembrance.