Everything to know about one of South Korea’s biggest holidays — Chuseok

Chuseok is one of the biggest holidays in South Korea. And it's a time when families gather together to give thanks to their ancestors.

Zhuo Jia Wen

| September 27, 2023
A group of females wearing the traditional Korean clothing, Hanbok. Photo: Kseniya Petukhova/Unsplash

Chuseok is undoubtedly one of the biggest festivals celebrated in South Korea.

But what exactly does the festival celebrate? And how do the locals in South Korea celebrate it?

HallyuSG tells you what the festival is all about, and everything you need to know about this three-day holiday.

What is Chuseok?

Chuseok, or Hangawi, another name the festival is known by, is a time when families get together to give thanks to ancestors for an abundant autumn harvest.

Put simply, it’s pretty much Korean Thanksgiving.

Celebrated with good food, wine and family gatherings, the three-day holiday usually takes place in September or October, depending on the Lunar calendar. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month, of the Lunar Calendar, with a full moon shining.

Notably, Chuseok is one of the biggest traditional holidays and an indispensable part of Korean culture.

This year, Chuseok takes place from 28 Sep (Thu) to 30 Sep (Sat).

Chuseok Traditions

While Korea has rapidly modernised, many families continue to practice Chuseok traditions. This includes Charye and Beolcho.

Charye is the Korean ancestral worship ritual which takes place on the morning of Chuseok day. Family members will honour ancestors with memorial services, together with traditional food.

Beolcho, on the other hand, is the tradition of maintaining the graves of ancestors. Usually, family members visit the ancestral graves and pluck weeds that have grown around them. It is an act of filial piety and it sometimes takes place before the actual holiday.

Chuseok Food

Food is another big part of the holiday. While families will cook up a feast to celebrate, the holiday is also known for traditional foods like Songpyeon, a type of Korean rice cake.

(L to R) Songpyeon, a traditional Korean food made from rice powder and Galbijjim, a braised beef short ribs dish.

While not only eaten during Chuseok, Japchae (a stir-fried noodle dish), Jeon (pancake) and Galbijjim (braised beef) are also items enjoyed during the holiday.

Other activities during Chuseok?

Other than the rituals and getting together to have a meal, there are also other leisure activities done by South Koreans.

Ssireum (wrestling) is common during the holiday, and others will perform the Ganggangsullae, a traditional folk dance presented by women dressed in traditional clothing Hanbok, as a prayer for fruitful harvest.

A group of dancers performing a traditional dance in front of an audience. Photo: zerotake/Unsplash

There’s also bullfighting, or sossaum as the Koreans call it. These bulls will fight it out until one yields. Here’s a tip: head over to Cheongdo if you want to experience and see this for yourself.


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