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Postcards from the East: Korean Thanksgiving Ceremony Celebrates Ancestral Roots

Byline: by Soyoung An

Posted: January 16, 2012

Sept. 12 was an important public holiday called ‘Chuseok’ in South Korea. Chuseok is a Korean version of Thanksgiving Day. Unlike in U.S., where we celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November, Korean Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Thus, Korean Chuseok’s date changes every year.

Korean Thanksgiving is three consecutive holidays. Before starting the first day of the holiday, people visit their hometowns, specifically their grandparents’ house or their eldest family members’ house.

On the first day, families prepare food together. In contrast to the U.S. Koreans make crescent shaped rice cakes called "Songpyun." In addition, they prepare meat, fish, walnuts, persimmons, pears and apples. These are offered to the Gods and the Ancestors as a ceremony.

The biggest difference with the U.S. is a memorial service for ancestors to thank them for a bountiful harvest. On the second day, Koreans worship their ancestors during morning ceremonies at their homes or they visit their ancestor’s graves with their family. Some people wear Korean traditional clothes to honor their ancestors. At night, Koreans wish upon the full moon. On the last day, people visit their maternal grandparents.

Last Updated: January 16, 2012

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