Chuseok

Chuseok Traditions, Hagwon Style

Recently, I wrote a post about all of the wonderful reasons to love autumn in Korea.  Not listed in the post but very much included in my reasons for loving the season is that of ChuseokChuseok is a Korean holiday that celebrates the autumn harvest and is held around the autumn equinox based on the lunar calendar.  It is usually three days long and is one of the few times of the year that Koreans take time off of work and visit their hometowns to share an autumn feast with their families in celebration of the harvest.  Chuseok is also a time to remember ancestors through various ceremonies. 

“What did you do for Chuseok?” “Errrrmmm…”

According to my students and co-teachers alike, this particular year is a pretty shitty one for national holidays as (apparently) the majority of them fall on a weekend meaning that we are not given the day off from school. My colleagues and I have gotten to a mutual stage of despair with our students at this point in the school year and have given up trying to appear professional in the face of such disappointments. I make it abundantly clear that I would offer up a digit or two to score a 7-class Thursday off and they reciprocate in kind by appearing to actively hate their entire school day. During the onslaught of Typhoon Sanba one of my fellow English teachers actually braved the apex of the storm on foot in order to get home an hour or so early. That’s proper dedication to slacking off, I felt like Employee of the Month sitting at my desk playing Spore and eating Doritos until it had passed.


Chuseok Luck

So it is the time of year again in Korea where the town empties out and stores close for the Chuseok holiday. But you know what? It's also my birthday and so I am a happy camper this Chuseok as I get to celebrate my birthday and also get a 5 day weekend!

Even though most places will be closed I will be out hunting for one that is open with friends in hopes of celebrating the occasion. If on Sunday this doesn't work out then I'll have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to celebrate. Plus there are festivities going on at the palaces (which will be free to enter) and with weekdays off next week I could do more exploring.

I'm one happy gal this Chuseok :) Thank you Korea!

Getting my Knees Dirty on Korean New Year

On Friday night we boarded a bus in Suwon expecting hours of traffic packed in between tumults of snow. We hoped the journey would take less than five hours and, if we were lucky, the bus driver would at least leave the reading lights on, unlike the last time we took the bus.

We knew what was ahead. Korean New Year is famous for the lines of impregnable traffic on the express-way, and for the previous two days, both the weather forecast and my father-in-law had been warning us about the snow that was going to stop the world that existed around us.

Two hours into our journey along the expressway I awoke with a shudder and snort. The bus was cruising steadily along the expressway at an unfamiliar speed, perhaps over 80 kilometres an hour, and we were passing Munmak, thaat perpetual traffic black spot on the Yeongdong Expressway.


Quick Hits: There’s No Oil in Them Thar Hills and Some Interesting Photos.

Another week, another long blogging delay. It seems that there just plain isn’t anything interesting going on these days. Maybe just a hang-over from the Chuseok holiday but all is quiet on the eastern front, with no foreigners punching old people, missile launches or anything to get the bloggersphere going. Oh well, anyways in the spirit of putting words to paper (or screen) simply for the sake of doing it, here’s a couple of things which have caught my attention.

At least they got to see some of the beautiful Kurdish countryside (HT to ROKdrop.com)


Festivities at the Seoul Museum of History


My Chuseok

My Chuseok has been rather uneventful this year. As you might recall I went to Geoje island last year with JH and had a spectacular time. This year JH and I are going through some kind of rough patch. We are both concerned about our futures. Because of this we haven't done much together this Chuseok. Despite this I am trying to take myself places. I went to some festival downtown in Jogno yesterday and hope to meet up with good pals today.

Chuseok Love…

with the kiddies.

For my readers at home: Chuseok is a three-day Korean holiday that traditionally celebrates the autumn harvest. For us waygooks, it means a four-day weekend. (Asa!) For Koreans, it means returning to their hometowns, paying respect to their ancestors, and sharing a feast.  Many also wear traditional clothes called hanbok.

So at school on Friday, we held a Hanbok Fashion Show so the kids could show off their gear…

It was a pretty big deal.

Monica, Louis, and Jeff--I start each morning with them, grateful that coffee was invented.


Chuseok Diary

I’m sitting in the living room after finishing another massive feed. My mother and father in-law are visiting, as is my brother-in-law. It’s kind of a proud moment for me. Today, I’m the man-of-the-house that is hosting the family’s Chuseok get-together. Herself doesn’t really have a big family – only her parents and one younger brother – and the majority of her parent’s brothers and sisters have lived far away for a long time so the family tend to do their own thing at Chuseok. It’s small, but cosy enough in its own way. It’s also quiet, which is also nice especially when I compare it to the frantic Christmases we have back in Ireland.

As I said, I am the man-of-the-house. That being said, herself and her ould won are doing most, if not all, of the work. It’s not because I can’t, it’s more because Herself’s ould won won’t have me doing anything short of setting the table, not that I’m complaining or anything.

Unfortunately, Herself’s parents can only stay a couple of nights before they shoot back to Gangwon-do on the east coast. But, we both could see that they were happy to be here for Chuseok. The change and the journey are always nice I think, and I think that they had less to worry about coming here. Our apartment has more room and is a bit more comfortable than theirs, especially when the whole family comes over for Chuseok. So, while they did have a three hour drive to get here we both could feel that they were very relaxed and happy with the change of scene.


* Celebrating Chuseok! *

With fall comes Chuseok 추석, the Korean harvest festival! Also known as Hangawi 한가위, it is one of the most important holidays in Korea. Following the lunar calendar it falls on the 15th day of the 8th month, close to the Autumn Equinox, and is celebrated over 3 days. This year Chuseok goes from September 11-13, giving a long week-end to families to get together.

Chuseok, Seoul, Korean holiday, Korean culture, Korean rites,

Celebrating Chuseok (The Chosunilbo)


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