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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: Holidays in South Korea Series on KoreanClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Korean holidays and observances. I’m Brandon, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 8: Korean Thanksgiving Day.
In ancient Korea, the crop harvest and the bounty was very important to a society that depended on agriculture, so Korean people created a day to give thanks to their ancestors after they finished harvesting. That day is 추석 (Chuseok), which is celebrated on August 15th of the lunar calendar.
In this lesson, we’ll learn about the traditional holiday 추석 (Chuseok), the day people hold ancestral memorials and share the harvested food amongst the villagers.
But, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question: where do Koreans visit the most as 추석 (Chuseok) approaches?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On 추석 (Chuseok), many families gather together and go to the mountains to visit their ancestors' graves. A lot of Korean families have ancestors buried in graves on the mountainside because there are many mountains on the Korean peninsula. So on this holiday, they go to the mountains to visit their ancestors' graves and tidy up the area. This practice is known as 벌초 (Beolcho)—”cutting the weeds around a grave.” Families will cut the grass around the grave to make it look neat.
After tidying the graves together as a family, they’ll have a meal using the new crops to make various dishes. However, there is one food that absolutely must be eaten on this day— 송편(songpyeon). This is a rice cake made with beans or sesame inside that is steamed in a Korean traditional cauldron. Families gather together on Chuseok and make 송편(songpyeon) in many colors, such as green, white, yellow, and pink.
You may even see people performing 강강수월래 (Gang-gang-suwollae), a type of ancient dance, especially if you go to a village in the countryside. Only women can participate in 강강수월래 (Gang-gang-suwollae). Before the dance, women wearing 한복 (hanbok)—the traditional Korean dress—hold each other's hands and make a circle. Next, while singing a song containing the word 강강수월래 (Gang-gang-suwollae), they dance in one direction. It’s a beautiful dance!
Now, here's our fun fact for the day! Did you know that 추석(Chuseok) is known by a different name? It’s 한가위(Hangawi.) 한(Han) means "big" and 가위 (gawi) means "in the middle." Since 추석(Chuseok) is on August 15th of the lunar calendar, it’s in the middle of August. That's why 추석(Chuseok) can also be called 한가위(Hangawi).
Now it’s time to answer our quiz question: where do people visit the most as 추석(Chuseok) approaches? The answer is the market. If you visit a market before 추석(Chuseok), all across Korea, you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. So people visit the markets to buy ingredients to make food during 추석(Chuseok).
How was this lesson? Did you learn any new information today?
Do you celebrate the year’s harvest in your country, too?
Please leave us a comment at KoreanClass101.com.
And we'll see you next time!