Wednesday, September 21, 2011


So this might be a bit strange because this place where I've spent Chuseok and this family are no longer my family, but I think I should still talk about what happened before I moved. Because Chuseok was really interesting... and delicious.

Basically, you need to know that Chuseok for American purposes is like Korean Thanksgiving...sorta. It's a lot more than that though, and that's really a poor comparison. In fact, Chuseok is more like an ancestral worship and big harvest get-together. It's a big time to celebrate family, bounty, and remember the dead. It's also the largest holiday in Korea; it's that important.

So it's a whole lotta cookin' and eatin'. In that respect, it's very much like an American Thanksgiving. It's also a lot like Christmas too!!! Because it's the big gift-giving holiday. Christmas in Korea is more like a romantic holiday for couples...fascinating. So people get all kinds of fun gifts for Chuseok. When I heard this, I dived right in and got lots of gifts for my (ex-) family!

Here's the spread!

Who's the Chuseok Queen now?!?!
So I got gifts for each of my family members. Basically just made a big E-Mart and Stationary store run. But they were very surprised and liked it a lot!! Of course, who doesn't like gifts?!

For Host mom and Host little sister...
For Host dad and Host little brother...

Chuseok landed on a Monday (Sept 12th) this year (since it's related to the lunar calendar, it changes every year), so on Friday the roads were jammed with people leaving. Saturday it was also busy...last minute shopping and more people traveling. On Sunday it was also busy during the morning, since people were all going to the eldest son's .house in their .family to cook and prepare for the .holiday and ceremony on2 Monday.

I helped to cook!
Host grandmother and host cousin making "chon" and other yummy fried in egg veggie dishes. We are in my host uncle's house.

Also!!! There was. this super cute little dog in the house! Her name was "Sarang" or love. Precious. At first, she was pretty ugly, but she was so loving and cute, I couldn't help it. Plus I really miss pets. Most Koreans do not have dogs...and certainly not cats. They are considered like dirty street animals...Anyway, we got along well since we both spoke the least Korean! :) Actually...I bet she understood more korean than me...

Isn't she cute?! Kinda...?

Anyway, then on Monday morning I arrived at Host Uncle's apartment around 9am. Unfortunately they had already performed the worship ceremony. >< But I got to see a lot of the food laid out. I basically just arrived for a big meal...for breakfast. And it was great!

Host grandmother, host aunt, and host little sister. Host mom didn't want her picture taken and is hiding behind  little sister.

After eating and cleaning, we headed to the Grandfather's tomb. I was very surprised that I was allowed to come. But they invited me along and of course I said yes!

The tomb...or grave. I think "tomb" is more accurate.
Offerings. Soju (alcohol of choice in Korea), fruit, and a lit cigarette.
Insa of the sons to their father. I also just realized in looking at this picture, that all the male family members are present. I'm not sure about my little brother, but I know my host cousin was there on purpose. Chuseok is a patriarchal holiday (like nearly everything else in Korea), so the wife will always spend the actual worship and meal service with her husband's family. She may visit her family later, but just to help eat more leftovers. ~Another interesting point this reminds me of, the children in a family are the father's - they take their father's surname. But the wife keeps her family name upon marrying. Fascinating...

Except for the 10 seconds of insa (formal greeting), everyone just sort of went around cleaning things, pulling moss off the grave, getting rid of other forest debris and trying to keep cool. It was very sunny and humid. It was an odd mix of somber and also just a "doing your duty" kind of feeling. But it was interesting.

Here's a video I took of it all:

Afterwards, we just went back to Host Uncle's House and ate more food. It reminded me a lot of any other holiday in America, lots of eating, cooking, lazying-around, and watching TV. It was great.

...And then two days later I found out they didn't want to host me anymore. After all of that... >< But it's better this way. I'll comment on the switch in my next post...

1 comment: