October 1, 2020
Hello! Happy Chuseok to all those who celebrate it! Here is lovely Ilwoo Ssi wishing everyone the same:
Are you wondering what this holiday is about? In Western terms it is referred as the “Korean Thanksgiving” because of the similarity in gathering with family to feast on food, but I think that Chuseok is much deeper than that. According to Wikipedia:
“Chuseok (Hangul:추석;秋夕), literally “Autumn eve”, once known as hangawi (Hangul: 한가위 from archaic Korean for “the great middle (of autumn)”), is a major harvest festival and a three-day holiday in North Korea and South Korea celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar on the full moon. Like many other harvest festivals around the world, it is held around the autumn equinox, i.e. at the very end of summer or in early autumn. ” Cr. Wikipedia
September 30/October 1 is the official date of Chuseok this year with the start of the full moon depending where you are, but the public observation of Chuseok runs from today until October 2nd… plus the weekend! Many people will travel to their hometowns.
This is from one of my posts two years ago. It will give you an idea of what they do in this holiday.
“In the morning of the day of Chuseok, family members gather at their homes to hold memorial services called charye in honor of their ancestors. Formal charye services are held twice a year: during Seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day) and Chuseok. During Chuseok’s charye, freshly harvested rice, alcohol and songpyeon (half-moon rice cakes) are prepared as an offering to the family’s ancestors. After the service, family members sit down together at the table to enjoy delicious food. ” Cr. Imagine your Korea
“The oldest male heir of a household holds jesa to honor his family. This means that my husband, who is an only son, would honor his father and his father’s father when it is his turn to hold jesa. Currently, my husband’s father is still alive so, we go to his house to hold jesa and we honor my husband’s father’s father and his father’s grandfather and his father’s grandfather’s brother because his father’s grandfather’s brother had no male heirs. Technically only men are allowed to hold jesa which means that if my husband’s father’s grandfather’s brother had had a female heir, she would not be able to hold jesa for him because presumably she would have married into another family and would be honoring her husband’s family which is how we came to honor his father’s grandfather’s brother as well during our jesa ceremony. Jesa is passed down through the oldest male heir/relative and that’s the easiest way to remember, put simply. That is also one of the reasons that having a son has traditionally been so important to families. My husband is now the third generation in a row to have only one male heir to carry on the tradition so it is important for him to learn and continue to honor his line for his ancestors. ” Cr. The Soul of Seoul. net
Now…I’m going to make an assumption, I am going to assume that Ilwoo, who is catholic celebrates Chuseok. According to my Korean tutor, protestants can’t celebrate Chuseok, but Catholics can… he might not celebrate the traditional Chuseok and attend a catholic mass to remember his ancestors… this is on my list of questions to ask Jung II-woo someday! So making the assumption that Jung II-woo celebrates a traditional Chuseok… this is what would happen:
So in Ilwoo’s case, his father has the responsibility to host Chuseok and the “charye” memorial service. Jung II-woo will go to his parent’s on September 24th and help in the preparations and participate in the service. He will honor his father’s father and the male ancestors up to four generations before. Of what I read, only the men are honored in this ceremony.
The first thing they do is set an altar table. The placing of the food on this altar is placed according to their colors and make up. Jung II-woo is probably very involved in this as he loves to cook and various dishes are especially prepared. To see in detail how they do this, visit HERE. This is what the table place setting looks like:
After the table is set, the family will participate in the “jesa” or ceremony prayer for the ancestors. This ceremony is very symbolic and beautiful. It is also very arduous as it involves bowing many times. You can read about it HERE.
Another traditional custom of Chuseok is seongmyo, or visit to the ancestral graves. Seongmyo is an old tradition that is still carried out to show respect and appreciation for family ancestors. During seongmyo, family members remove the weeds that have grown around the graves and pay respect to the deceased with a simple memorial service. Cr. Wikipedia.
I discovered a few new things I didn’t know about this holiday this year. The first is a story that is popular in its various versions all through Asia. It has to do with a rabbit and the moon, and of course I thought of Ilwoo as he is a rabbit in the Chinese zodiac.
“Mid-Autumn harvest festivals around the world have folklore attributed to the moon? In Korea, when you look up at the full moon, you may see the image of a rabbit making rice cakes. But what’s the rabbit doing up there?
This legend originates from Buddhist lore and its retelling differs slightly between countries. The story as it pertains to Chuseok goes like this:
A fox, monkey, and rabbit are devoted students of Buddhism. One day, they have their faith tested by the Emperor of the Heavens. The Emperor disguises himself as a beggar and asks the animals for something to eat. Each animal goes on its own to gather food, with the fox bringing back fish, the monkey bringing back fruit, and the rabbit bringing back some grass. Because of the rabbit’s feeble offering, it decides to light that grass on fire and jump in to offer itself to the beggar. The Emperor was so moved by this he appointed the rabbit as the guardian of the moon.
There are important symbols in the moon rabbit’s image – fertility, longevity, and harvest. The rabbit is a sign of fertility, which complements Chuseok’s celebration for bountiful harvests. In the Korean retelling, the rabbit is said to be standing beneath a gyesu tree. The tree is a sign of longevity due to the medicinal applications of the cinnamon in its bark. The rice cakes it makes is a staple of the Korean harvest and they symbolize an appreciation of the Mid-Autumn harvest, along with good wishes and dreams.” Cr.chuseok.info.
This tale inspired the artwork I created for this year… I keep thinking that Ilwoo is as noble as that character… and how wonderful it is that a person can be like that. Here is the last of the pieces I created especially:
All these images of Ilwoo come from his Haechi photoshoot in 2019. I photoshopped them with the moon and a famous Art Nouveau door in 6 rue de lac, Brussels. This is what the door looks like:
Isn’t it gorgeous?! It was built in 1904.
The rice cakes the story mentions are “songpyeon” (half-moon rice cakes) and they are a traditional dish and prepared as an offering to the family’s ancestors. Can you imagine Ilwoo’s… they must be so delicious! I tried them from Hmart, the Korean supermarket chain. They are good! He mentioned them in his video greeting for this year…
This is what they look like traditionally:
These are more elaborate ones:
I visited the Korean supermarket Hmart yesterday. I found some songpyeon and bought them. I also bought two persimmons. I set up them up on the table with a candle… and a leaf I found walking back home. I will leave them there overnight as my humble offering to Ilwoo’s ancestors. I will eat some tomorrow… I hope they don’t mind sharing a few! ^ ^
This is how they came:
I also discovered this amazing website that taught me so much! These are some of the links that fascinated me:
Here you can see many other traditional dishes:
and their section on drinks was absolutely fascinating to me… I’ve only tasted a couple of these drinks… if you visit, you’ll see one of them that Ilwoo endorsed in 2007…! ^ ^
Wasn’t that amazing? So much to explore!!! and this is a link to traditional folk games…
I looked up one of them on YouTube: Juldarigi 줄다리기… it is incredible. It’s like a major tug of war… this video was very artistic…
This one shows more of the tug of war:
This one shows how they make the ropes! It’s fascinating!!! It’s subtitled in Spanish!!! One of the things it said was that, it takes 200 people to make that rope with all the attachments!!! 200 people!!!
Didn’t the union of both sides remind you of a man and a woman? ^ ^ Oh! How I wish I could be there taking it all in! I think none of this will be possible this year… just look at the amount of people!!!
Well I hope you have enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I will leave you with some images of our beloved rabbit ( the ones I posted yesterday) and some photos of bunnies I have seen this past week. I think what they say is true, what you focus on manifests in your life… lots of rabbits lately in mine!
I hope you are eating deliciously!
Here are the many rabbits I saw this past week…