The Meaning of Chuseok

      September 12, 2011 08:26

      Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving celebrates nature's bounty. At a time of the year when rice paddies and other plots of farmland are filled with bumper crops, even the poorest farmers make rice wine and pick the ripest fruit and present them on altars for ancestral rites.

      Koreans in the past chose the best times of the year for holidays and prepared sumptuous tables to honor their ancestors and share the food with their family and friends.

      Foreign women married to Koreans pose with songpyeon or crescent-shaped rice cakes they made in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province on Sept. 6, 2011. /Newsis

      There is a Korean saying that goes, "Not more, not less. Just be like Hangawi (another name for Chuseok)." The saying refers to the fact that the Chuseok holiday falls on the best time of the year with moderately cool weather and warm sun and, more importantly, abundant food from the fresh harvest.

      It was common to prepare a lavish meal and enjoy it with the entire family and friends who had toiled hard in the field from spring until fall after performing ancestral rites.

      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 till a time of the year when family and relatives travel long distances to get together and pay their respects to their ancestors.

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