추석 Chuseok – Korean Thanksgiving

003
image courtesy of http://m.post.naver.com/my.nhn?memberNo=10005291

추석(Chuseok) is one of the most important holidays for Korean along with 설날(Seollal). The word Chuseok means ‘a Fall night’ which expresses ‘A day that has the brightest moon in  Fall’. Chuseok is derived from Chinese letters, and the Korean word for Chuseok is 한가위(Han-gahWe). Han-gahwe means ‘The center of the month’ because Han-gahwe is August 15th on the Lunar Calendar. It is Korean Thanksgiving.

It is a national holiday which everyone take 3 days off. The holiday starts a day before Han-gahwe and ends a day after Han-gahwe because families have to prepare food for a ceremony in early morning on the holiday.

For food, they make a special rice cake for this holiday which is called 송편(Songpyoun). Songpyoun is a rice cake that is steamed with pine leaves, and it looks like a half moon(반달). Why does it look like a half moon even thought they celebrate for a full moon? Old Koreans hoped their lives would be filled with happiness like a full moon(보름달) from the half moon after the holiday, not like the full moon becomes smaller after the holiday.

At night, Koreans pray to a full moon for their happiness and health and appreciate mother nature for food. In the past, women went out with their female family members or neighbors dancing a special dance and singing for Han-gahwe. It is called 강강술래(Gahng Gahng Soollae).

<강강술래(Gahng Gahng Soollae) dance
image courtesy of  http://www.k-heritage.tv/main/heritage&gt;

 

If you have Korean friends, tell them “Happy Chuseok!”.  즐거운 추석 보내세요! 즐거운 한가위 보내세요!

 

Words for Chuseok>

추석 Chuseok
한가위 Han-gahwe
송편 Songpyoun
보름달 full moon
반달  half moon
강강술래 (Gahng-Gahng Soollae)
즐거운 추석 보내세요!  Happy Chuseok!
즐거운 한가위 보내세요!  Happy Han-gahwe!

You can listen to the audio files by clicking here. 

초복, 중복, 말복 The hottest days!!!

초복(Chobok:初伏), 중복(Joongbok:中伏), 말복(Mahlbok:末伏) are known for three hottest days of the lunar calendar and we call these days 삼복(三伏) which means three hottest days in Korean.   means ‘beginning’, means ‘middle’ and means ‘end’, so 초복 is ‘the beginning of a hot summer’, 중복 is ‘the middle of a hot summer’ and ‘말복’ is ‘the end of a hot summer.

on 복날[봉날](the day of 초복, 중복 or 말복), we usually eat 삼계탕(Sam-gye-tang:hot chicken Ginseng soup) or 초계탕(Cho-gye-tang:cold chicken soup).  A HOT SOUP on a HOT DAY????   It sounds crazy, but it is a scientific fact.  When you eat hot food, you will sweat a lot.  After you sweat, your body temperature drops, so your body becomes cool!  There is a saying that explains this idea, which is 이열치열(Fight fire with fire:以熱治熱).

삼계탕 Sam-gye-tang

 

초복 is 7/16, 중복 is 7/27 and 말복 is 8/16 in 2016.

Let’s go eat 삼계탕 or 초계탕!!!

 

초계탕 Cho-gye-tang

제사 The Commemorative Ceremony

The commemorative ceremony is one of the most important rites for Korean family.  It usually takes 30 mins to an hour, but it depends on family members.

20140131102235_402287_329_371
<The order of the ceremonial food>
img from : http://www.naver.com

We prepare the best food for them because we believe that spirits really come to have the food.  There are usually apples, pears, meat, soup, rice, fish, chestnuts and jujubes etc, but it depends on family.  One of the funny thing is that after the ceremony, we take a little of every food and take them outside for stranger spirits(??) who don’t have family to have a ceremony for them.  Traditionally only men can perform the commemorative ceremony, but my family women also join the ceremony.

There are three kinds of the ceremony.

1. 제사[Jesa] is usually for dead people who were in your family such as great grand parents, grand parents, parents or brother and sister. It is held every year at night on the day when they died, so it is particularly for a person.  My family have four ceremonies per year for my great grand parents and grand parents.

2. 차례[Chare] is for ancestors including family members who died, but it is held in the early morning on Seollal and Choosuk which are New year’s day(January 1st of the Lunar Calendar) and Thanksgiving day(August 15th of the Lunar Calendar).  This is for thanking to ancestors to let us have a great year and for hoping that they take care of us.  The food will be similar to 제사, however we put ‘떡국(rice cake soup)’ on Seollal.

 

 

3. 고사[Gosa] is held on the day when people start their business, when they move to a new house, when they buy a new car or when farmers start harvesting.  It can be held in the morning, afternoon or night.  The food is mostly the same as other ceremony, but there is one more thing which is “PIG HEAD”.  In Korea, pigs mean ‘fortune’ or ‘wealth’, so people put a pig head as a sacrificial offering to hope that ancestors protect them from the bad luck and the evil spirit.

ceremony
i
mg from : http://blog.naver.com/jnjshop/30154191034