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Celebrate Thanksgiving in the East Asian style: Especially the Korean way

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/14/2006 | Social Issues

Another day in the Thanksgiving ceremony is the Korean way of celebrating the occasion. Unlike the US celebration, the Koreans celebrate their harvest festival on September 24 every year. The Thanksgiving Day celebration is popularly known as the Chusok in Korea, and the words literal meaning is, the falling evening. So you can pretty well make out how Chusok and the harvest are related and how then thanksgiving gets tied in.

Relation between moon and thanksgiving in the Korean way

Astronomy has a great role to play in the fixing of this particular celebration apart from the harvest season. Actually, in the East Asian culture, the harvest moon is considered to be the eighth lunar moon, as its position is on the fifteenth day. Now, it has been observed that according to the calendar record, generally this moon position occurs on the 24th of September and so, nowadays, it has been recorded as a fixed day to celebrate the Thanksgiving Day.

Basic philosophy behind the gathering and feast

To a great extent, the philosophy is similar to how it is in Europe and America. The Koreans, too, offer prayers to the God for the rich yield and make wishes to live in prosperity and happiness ever after. Initially, the Harvest Moon festival was a great day for the farmers of this land. Gradually, the festive mood crossed beyond the borders; and now, both the country dwellers and the city folks celebrate it in their very own modes. Chusok has its significance in every household in Korea and is a very important festival celebrated once a year.

Coming together in a festive rejoice

The get-together celebration is a social event in the Korean community. In the villages, this is an occasion when women come out of their homes in full spirit and engage in community preparations of making traditional dishes and special cuisines.

Everyone from 8 to 80 enjoys the festive mood. At least for one day, all of them forget their personal grievances and build up harmony and fellow feelings. Ritual activities are performed and showing respect to the seniors is an integral part of the festival. Paying thanks is, obviously, a means of paying homage. For the young ones, it is the day to receive blessings and best wishes. For the elderly, the little ones show their greetings and regards and, thus, the bonhomie is built up.

Special food and party games

Since it is the harvest season, Koreans love to make use of the best seasonal items for their special cuisines. Rice cakes with chestnuts, sesame and beans are a delicious item served on this occasion. Song Pyun is a traditional food made of rice flour and newly harvested fruits. Another such traditional dish is Khaegangjong which is prepared from sesame seeds. So here in the feasting items, the East Asians differ a bit from the Americans.

Recreation, through sports and games, is a significant feature of the Korean way of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. The party time is given a thrust with a jovial mood of folk songs and country dances, and each and every one is allowed to participate in these events, irrespective of age and sex.

Would it be wrong to portray that the Korean way of wishing good luck and thanks is a symbol of unity and integration? Probably not!