Korean Culture: What is Chuseok?

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Many of the Korean-national employees that help make up team Osan will be off work Sept. 8-10, for Chuseok, the major Korean holiday in the fall.

Sometimes referred to the Korean Thanksgiving, Chuseok's origins come from the era of Korea being divided into three kingdoms. Traditionally observed for three-days, many Koreans visit families and journey to their hometown in order to pay tribute to their ancestors.

There are many cultural customs that go into celebrating Chuseok, including special food preparation, memorial services and visits to ancestral grave sites.

One of the most popular Korean foods for Chuseok is songpyeon, a rice cake powdered and kneaded into small sized portions before being filled with other ingredients like bean paste and sesame seeds. Making songpyeon is a family event.

On the morning of Chuseok, Korean families hold memorial services to honor their ancestors. Food is prepared beforehand and eaten after the ceremony.

Tending to the ancestral grave sites is another family tradition during Chuseok. Families gather during the Chuseok holiday to remove weeds and other brush that have grown around their families grave sites.

Due to the high level of travelling during Chuseok, highways and trains can become congested. A lot of Koreans who work in big cities will be leaving, in mass, from the metropolises to visit their families in their hometowns.

While it's one of the most prominent of Korean holidays, there are many events in big cities with special Chuseok performances and events, open to visitors. Even though it's time for native Koreans to honor their ancestry, visiting foreigners can enjoy cultural and traditional Chuseok events as well.