My first Chuseok 나의 첫 추석

Written by on September 23, 2013 in Lifestyle
Don't think this was all the food they served, many dishes were added.

Don’t think this was all the food they served, many dishes were added.

Today I accompanied MJ and his family for Chuseok. Chuseok is a harvest festival & and respect is paid to the spirits of the ancestors. We went to visit his mother’s side of the family. It’s a little unusual because normally the women accompanies her husband to his side of the family. But because they live so for away from Seoul, they gather at the brother’s house  (the same brother who also has a farm in Jin-Bu, Kang-Won-Do)

Every family has their own take on these rituals. The father’s side of the family has rituals that take around 3 hours and the men are dressed in traditional costumes. The rituals I witnessed took around 30 minutes, no traditional costumes, but the men wore suits and the women dressed nicely.

Before we start they open the front door, so the ghosts can come in.

There is a table with the grandparents pictures displayed. Behind it,  a screen is set up for the occasion. Food is placed in front of the pictures; dried fish, fruit, moon cakes, eggs and several dishes. They started preparing these yesterday. Every dish has a certain place, I noticed that they use a little manual that shows the right set up. There are rules on how certain types of food have to be placed in different corners; North, East, West or South. Everything has it’s proper place.

The oldest son is in charge of the ritual. I’ve been told that this ritual is the sons responsibility. He lightened an incense stick. We all took a couple of bows, after that came a ritual of pouring rice wine. Everybody had a certain order when to bow before the altar and what to do. Seeing such a respectful ritual performed at home is impressive to watch.

I took some hasty pictures, be assured, it looked so much better then this!

I took some hasty pictures, be assured, it looked so much better then this!

After the ceremony the food was brought back to the kitchen. And we started our breakfast. We drank rice wine with it. And I learned today, that to be polite, a girl drinking in company has to hold her had in front of her cup. You also can’t really refuse when your elder pours you more. So down the rice wine went!

Adding more cuts to make it just a little more difficult.

Adding more cuts to make it just a little more difficult.

After the meal it was time for games (Editor’s note : This game is a called ‘yut nori’ 윷놀이, see Steve Miller’s post on how to play here.) . They prepared a cardboard and you had to throw sticks on the right side to move your pawns forward until they reached the finish line.

Everybody teamed up!

The first rounds were just for the younger generation to play. But the older generation was completely involved, clapping and cheering along. It was so much fun!  After a few rounds they make the game board a little more tricky. And then MJ’s mother played against her brothers, and it became the best match yet, until the very end it seemed like she couldn’t win, because she had a slow start. Suddenly, BAM during 5 minutes she has this glorious streak of good luck and wins the whole thing! (yeh, what? I was totally rooting for her of course!)My first Chuseok was a good experience , it’s nice to see a family as close as MJ’s. If you are in Korea (and if you are not), I hope you had a nice one too!

Originally posted on Lili Bayou, may not be reposted without permission.

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About the Author

Lili Bayou

Hi, call me Lili. I am a twenty-something from Belgium. After I studied illustration I wanted to broaden my horizons. I worked as an au pair in China until my heart lured me to South Korea. I decided to blog about my experience living here. So I could share it with friends, family and anyone who enjoys a little wandering. If you would like to see more check my blog: lilibayou.blogspot.com, or facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LiliBayouBlog