Korean Thanksgiving is right around the corner.
It falls on Aug. 15 of the lunar calendar each year. It will be this Monday, Sept. 12, this year. It is one of the major holidays in Korea.
An agricultural lifestyle made people value nature and the changing seasons. They worshipped and prepared events to celebrate harvests and the well being of people.
Our ancestors arranged events right after planting to ask for a good harvest () and also to show thanks for plentiful harvests during the autumn.
Korean Thanksgiving is called “Hangawi” or “Chuseok.”
This is the time to show appreciation for good harvests and recall the efforts and love they shared throughout the year. This also is the time when families are gathered and show their respects to their ancestors by holding rituals and visiting tombs of immediate ancestors. It is one of the very important Korean traditions to keep for future generations.
As the harvest season gets closer, people prepare a variety of foods with new crops and foods. These are presented at ceremonial tables and shared with families and friends.
One of symbolic dish of Hangawi is “Songpyeon,” which is a half-moon shaped rice cake steamed in pine needles. The making of this dish represents the phases of the moon and the harvest.
As the Songpyeon is made, the first step is to shape the dough (rice powder) into a perfect circle like a full moon and then place the filling (seeds, beans, chestnuts and so on) on the center as it holds and cherishes the good harvests from the earth. Once the dough is closed and formed into half moon shape, you have reproduced the life circle. This is impressed deeply to Korean people.
Songpyeon and other seasonal dishes are shared with families and friends. Other traditional activities included hemp-weaving and archery competitions. Traditional games are played, and there is singing and dancing.
There’s a seasonal greeting saying, “Be your 365 days just like Hangawi.”
Celebrating the Korean Thanksgiving, Hangawi, reenergizes people for the next round of the year to come.
I wish all of your days are filled with plentiful love and hope.