Chuseok Recap

2 weeks ago, I experienced my first real holiday in Korea. Oh, you know how in the states, a holiday probably equals to one or two days off at the most. HERE, however, you get the day before/of/after the actual Chuseok day! They also throw in some extra days because Koreans find it ridiculous to work for only a day or so after a vacay.

So check it. This year, Chuseok fell on a Wednesday — so automatically, you get Tuesday and Thursday off. Then, you get Friday off because everyone is like “What’s the point?!”. Some people even got the Monday before Chuseok off because the administrators found it pointless to then come in to work for a day. My school didn’t have that lightbulb thought go off, so I was unfortunately one of the people who had to work for a day. Anyway, 99% of Korea had a 6 day week vacay. WOW — I love Korea.

What is Chuseok? What is the effing big deal? Well, its like the American “Give Thanks” Thanksgiving holiday. But instead of giving thanks to random things and praising the pilgrims for their journey to America — Koreans show respect to their elders as well as conduct ceremonies to honor the deceased.

I had the most fortunate opportunity to witness such a ceremony in Korea. The eldest wife of the family is the one who is supposed to plan the whole thing. Therefore, I was invited over to my uncle’s home in Seoul to show my respects to my grandfather and great grandparents.

So the picture above shows the ceremony set up. All the food is prepared in honor of the elders in our family who have passed away and we light incense, pour soju, and also bow to them. Written on the paper are the names of the elders. I actually thought it was just to my grandfather, but it also was to my great grandfather and mother! I was happy that the family showed respect to the woman of our family as well. 😀 Food is also offered to the elders and then they burn the piece of paper and put it in the bowl of water that represents the three deceased family members. It was definitely interesting to observe this type of traditional ceremony.

My cousin’s children in their traditional hanboks!! Too cute! They also had to bow to the elders.

After the ceremony, we all sat down to eat together as a family. It’s crazy how much the women of the family prepared! I was told they were up all night making food. Uh, sorry? Haha.

Yes. That’s right. The weatherwoman is in a hanbok during Chuseok. HAHA! This made me laugh out loud for real while my cousins (most of whom I met for the first time) stared at me. ….Fail!

Okay, so although I wanted to hang out with my fellow foreign teachers, wished I would of went on vacay exploring Korea, or even just annoyed with being around family — Chuseok was really great getting to meet so many people I’m related to. It just kind of puts your mind in perspective to see that you are a part of a huge net of family connections.

– Stella

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