This week was the week of the national holiday Chuseok. For a quick explanation of Chuseok, it is basically the Korean Thanksgiving. It is a big harvest festival that takes place in the span of three days. It is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. This year it landed on Sept. 23-25th. During these three days, families gather to visit the homes of their ancestors. They gather to celebrate the coming year and that it will be better than the one before. Like in the United States, there are many foods that are traditionally served and eaten specifically on this day. It’s a holiday focused on family.

So what did I do on this holiday focused on family when I am thousands of miles away from mine? First I would like to say that with my luck I became sick literally on the morning of the first day. The first day landed on a Sunday, so I took the subway to the Myeongdong Cathedral for mass. It was here at mass where I found myself missing my family a bit. The priest spoke of the Chuseok holiday during his sermon where he mainly focused on the concept of being thankful for your loved ones. I found it comforting being at mass, because it’s where I go every Sunday with my family when I’m back home. Though it isn’t the “Thanksgiving” I’m used to, you can never think of your blessings too much.

The Myeongdong cathedral door. I took this photo on Sunday

Sitting in mass I thought about how thankful I am for my family. Being from a family of seven, I’ve got six people constantly supporting and caring for me. I can’t imagine how hard it was especially for my parents to send their favorite child (hehe) to Korea! They have never stopped me from doing what I feel will best help me grow. I also think of my four siblings that are all my best friends. My youngest sister of eleven, is my homie! Her name is Anna and we FaceTime every week; she has beyond supportive and is my rock. Everything I am able to experience in Korea, including Chuseok, is all because of them.

Walking around Seoul

A quiet walk for reflection

The other two days of Chuseok, I didn’t go to any traditional Korean restaurants or travel to different cities; I ended up hanging out locally in Seoul with some of my friends. I slept in most days due to my cold, and then from afternoon to night my friends and I would go out exploring. It was a ghost town near my school and most restaurants were closed so we had to go to the more touristy areas to find good food. Similarly to the US, most clothing stores had holiday sales which were very tempting.

A huge book store my friends and I went to on Tuesday in a town called Itewan.

Though I didn’t travel far for such a big holiday, I don’t regret the fun adventures and laughs I shared with my friends. I think relaxing and hanging with your friends who are close to you is what Chuseok is all about. Do I wish I could have celebrated such a beautiful holiday with my family? Yes, but overall I got what I was meant to out of the holiday season.

Chuseok was a great experience and what it is all about is a beautiful concept. I’m so excited that I could experience one of Korea’s biggest holidays. It shows that even across the world, people gather with their families and give thanks. I have my family, friends, and Marymount to thank for allowing me to celebrate this holiday in Korea!

Ellen V.

Leave a Reply