Chuseok: the Korean Thanksgiving holiday

(VOVworld) - Chuseok, or the annual thanksgiving holiday, is the second biggest event after Lunar New Year Festival in Korea. Korean people visit relatives and ancestral graves during the celebration, which will fall on September 15th this year. Today, we meet with Suzie Lee, a supervisor from Edelman Korea, Global communication marketing firm, to learn more about this tradition of her country.

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Chuseok, or the annual thanksgiving holiday, is the second biggest event after Lunar New Year Festival in Korea. (Photo:

Q: Hello, can you introduce yourself to VOV’s listeners?

A: Hi, I’m Suzie from Korea. Xin chào!

Q: Vietnamese people will welcome the Mid-Autumn Festival next week and I’ve learnt that Korean people also have a similar holiday called Chuseok. Can you tell me more about that?

A: Chuseok, or hangawi, means the big harvest moon festival of middle autumn. Han means ‘big’ while gawi means ‘the middle of August’ in the Lunar Calendar. Chuseok is a 3-day holiday in Korea, starting at the 15th of August in Lunar Calendar, when a full moon appears in the sky. Chuseok is celebrated for a good harvest season, and to spend time with our family and give thanks to our ancestors.

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During the Chuseok Festival, Koreans play folk games such as the traditional wrestling called ssireum. (Photo:
Q: What do you usually do during the holiday?

A: Koreans have a very specific routine for Chuseok. In the morning, the family holds charye, it means a memorial service for our ancestor to honor generations of back. We also visit our ancestor’s grave sites to salute them. We also clear the weed on the grave. Also on these days, Koreans play folk games, such as the traditional wrestling called ssireum, and perform a traditional circle dance called ganggangsullae. But nowadays, we don’t play such games or dance that often.

Q: What food do you specially make or eat in this event?

A: We make rice cakes and pancakes. The typical rice cakes will be made from rice powder and filled with sesame seeds or beans like red or green beans, chestnuts or other nutritious ingredients. And the Korean pancakes have slicing fish meet and other vegetables.

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The Korean people usually make rice cakes and pancakes for Chuseok. (Photo:

Q: Do Koreans wear the traditional clothes?

A: Yes, during Chuseok, people usually wear Korean traditional dress called hanbok.

Q: That sounds a lot like the Lunar New Year Festival in Korea. Is there any difference between the two holidays?

A: In both Chuseok and Lunar New Year Festivals, we hold the memorial services for our ancestors and give thanks to them. However, the Chuseok and the Lunar New Year originate differently. Chuseok is to give prayers and thanks, and is more like a Thanks Giving ceremony, while Lunar New Year is to celebrate the beginning of a new year in Lunar Calendar.

Q: Do you think the Chuseok Festival resemble any other events in the world?

A: I think Korea is not the only country that celebrates the harvest season with Festival. There are also a Mid-Autumn Festival in China and a Thanks-giving holiday in the US. There are countries like Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, Germany and Japan also have harvest festival.

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Children dressed up in hanbok ahead of Chuseok holiday in a store in Seoul. (Photo:

Q: Is there any change in the way you celebrate Chuseok holiday now and then?

A: Yes. In the past, agriculture was one of the most important factors for the livings.  Farmings used to be the major ways to feed family members. In the old days, Chuseok was truly to celebrate a good harvest and the abundant food. However, as you may know that Chuseok gradually developed into a normal celebration. For example, we used to wear the traditional dress called hanbok but now, people don’t prepare those clothes for the holiday anymore. And nowadays, Koreans like to travel overseas during this season since it’s the longest holiday in Korea.

Q: Have you ever experienced a Mid-autumn Festival in Vietnam? Do you think the two countries have similar celebrations?

A: I would say no. I was in Ho Chi Minh city during the Mid-Autumn Festival last year. I felt the holiday is more casual in Vietnam. But it Vietnam it’s more like for children. In Korea, the festival is for family gathering and Chuseok is one of the two biggest holidays. We have another day dedicated just for the young kids on May 5th, which is similar to the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.

Thank you Suzie for sharing your experience with us. And that’s been Culture Rendezvous on VOV24/7.


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