추석 Chuseok – Korean Thanksgiving

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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. 

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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

Korean Holidays

2016 holidays in Korea

 

Koreans still use Sun calendar and Lunar calendar. Most Korean holidays are on the Sun calendar, however we(Koreans) still celebrate the two biggest holidays(Seollal and Chuseok) with the Lunar calendar.  Because these days are a day off or a few days off at work and school, so we call them ‘공휴일(day off)’ and ‘연휴(a few days off)’.

Here are a list of holidays and what we do on those days.

1/1 설날 (양력설  New year’s day on the Solar calendar) – We eat 떡국(rice cake soup) and celebrate a new year.

2/7~2/10설날(음력설 New year’s day on the Lunar calendar) – It is the biggest holiday!!! It is January 1st on the Lunar calendar, so the date changes every year on the Solar calendar. People go to their hometown and meet their parents and families on this day. A day before 설날, we get together to prepare food for the early morning ceremony on 설날, which is for our ancestors. We eat 떡국(rice cake soup) after the ceremony and we play traditional games like 윷놀이(four sticks). For more information about 설날, click here.

3/1  삼일절 (Independent movement day) – It occurred on March 1st in 1919 during the Japanese colonial occupation period. On this day, there are lots of places have reenactment performances. You can learn more about 삼일절 through this website.

5/5 어린이날 (Children’s day) – Kids love it, parents hate it. 🙂 A lot of people go to amusement parks or go on a picnic on this day.

5/14 석가탄신일 (Buddha’s birthday) – It is April 8th on the Lunar calendar, so the date changes every year. Buddhism is one of the biggest religions in Korea. Buddhists go to a temple to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.

6/6 현충일 (Memorial day) – It is the day to commemorate people who fought for Korea. The government holds a ceremony at the National Cemetery in Seoul.

8/15 광복절 (Independence day) – It is the day that we found our freedom back from Japanese colonial rule.

9/14~9/16 추석(Chuseok, Full moon holiday) – It is August 15th on the Lunar calendar, so the date changes every year. Chuseok is the second biggest holiday for Koreans. We go to our parents house to celebrate it and eat a lot of food. The day before Chuseok, families get together to prepare food for a morning ceremony on Chuseok. Food for Chuseok, 송편(pine tree flavor rice cake) is the most famous food for this day.

10/3 개천절 (National Foundation Day) – National Foundation day is celebrating for the day that Dan-goon Jo-seon is established for 4348 years ago.

10/9 한글날 (Hangeul Day) – It is the day to celebrate Hangeul that was created by Sejong the Great in 1443.

12/25 크리스마스 (Christmas) – A lot of people celebrate Christmas even though they are not Christians. Koreans somehow celebrate it as Valentine’s day, so a lot of couples eat out on this day. Some restaurants change their prices twice as much as original prices. Streets are full of people who hang out with their friends. It is fun, but I don’t recommend you to go to a busy street because there are lots of people who are drunk.

 

Some holidays are not a day off, but very important for us, which are

5/8 어버이 날 (Parents day) – It is the day to appreciate our parents. On this day, we send carnations and gifts to our parents or eat a nice meal with them.

5/15 스승의 날 (Teacher’s day) – We express appreciation to our teachers on this day by sending cards and gifts to our teachers. 스승 is formal word for teacher.

 

* 설날 Seollal (lunar calendar), 추석(Chuseok) and 석가탄신일(Buddha’s birthday) change every year because it is on the lunar calendar.

 

* My favorite holiday is Seollal and Chooseok because there are lots of food and we can take three days off to see our family and friends!