Friday, September 12, 2008

More on Chusok/Chu'seok/Chuseok

It is, as I mentioned, the Korean Thanksgiving holiday, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (this year, we'll call it "September 14th," for the heck of it) just in time for the harvest season. Indeed, newly harvested rice plays an important role in the traditional family festivities, as it is ground into powder and formed into ddok (doughy rice cakes) then stuffed with honey and sesame seeds before being steamed over pine needles.

We were served them for lunch on Thursday, and they were delicious--technically, they're called songpyeon. You bite into a light but sticky doughball and get a sweet, tasty surprise. I guess the tradition of the family making them together has begun to disappear, as I have noticed them for sale for quite a while in E-Mart-uh. Of course, in America, once upon a time, the family would craft and hang the decorations for the tree together on Christmas Eve. Welcome to commercialism, Korea!

Speaking of holiday commercialism, I now understand the everpresent "Gift Boxes" in E-Mart--presentation-style boxes of fruit, liquor, socks (!?), Italian prepared meats, Spam (no, I'm not kidding, gift sets of Spam), hygiene products, mushrooms, and on and on, all ranging in price from from about W10,000 to W200,000. Erase three zeroes to convert to USD. They have been selling Chusok at least since I got here.

Turns out, Seoul won't be a total ghost town; here is a list of activities at Korea Times. To learn more about the holiday, go to Korea4Expats or The Holdiay Zone.

Happy Chusok/Chu'seok/Chuseok.

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