Chuseok in South Korea | Mid-Autumn Festival Explained

Chuseok // A Traditional Korean Festival

chuseok

Today we’re going to introduce you to Chuseok 추석, or as people like to call it – Korean Thanksgiving.

Chuseok, along with Seollal (설날), is one of the biggest traditional holidays in South Korea.

This day is celebrated to mark the mid-autumn period and to honour the moon, the harvest, but also the ancestors.

This is why it is also known as the harvest and full moon festival.

It is a holiday with a number different names which are:

  • 추석 Chuseok
  • 한가위 Hangawi
  • 중추절 Jungchujeol
  • 가배 Gabae

Moreover, like Seollal, Chuseok is a lunar festival, so the date of this event changes every year according to the lunar calendar

Chuseok in South Korea:

September 10th 2022

September 29th 2023

September 17th 2024

October 6th 2025

September 25th 2026

Here is what we will cover in this article, feel free to skip to the part that interests you the most:

Chuseok | The Origins of Chuseok

Chuseok | What do People do During Chuseok?

Chuseok | Korean Dishes

Chuseok | When is Chuseok Celebrated?

Chuseok | Vocabulary

Chuseok | FAQ’s

An Introduction to Public Holidays in South Korea Thumbnail

An Introduction to Public Holidays in South Korea

There are 11 public holidays in South Korea. Chuseok, Seollal, Children’s Day… Find out what these days are all about and celebrate with friends.

The Origins of Chuseok

The origins of Chuseok are still uncertain, but this festival would have been born more than a thousand years ago.

It’s assumed that it started before the Three Kingdoms period because it already existed in the Shilla Dynasty.

The king would have organised festivities and among the offered activities there was a weaving contest named Gabae (가배). At the end of the contest, the losing team would have to cook a full banquet for the winners.

Other historians suggest that the origins of Chuseok come from ancient Korean shamanic rites, practiced at the full moon in favour of the harvest…

In any case, Chuseok affirms Korea’s connection with its agricultural tradition, as it is still today an expression of gratitude and an important moment to spend with the family.

In fact, the Mid Autumn Festival isn’t just celebrated in South Korea, but other countries throughout Asia as well.

Check out our guide to discover how Mid Autumn Festival is celebrated in China.

What do People do During Chuseok?

Chuseok is a holiday that Korean people spend with their families. This day is celebrated with good food and gifts (Spam, fruit baskets, meat sets etc).

FACT | Highways are often congested during Chuseok. Train, bus and plane tickets are sold well in advance. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if you wish to be in Korea during this holiday.

Charye - South Korea

Koreans honour the memory of their ancestors during Chuseok.

Thus, there are many rituals which are called “Jesa” (제사).

The most common of these ancestral rites is the “Charye” (차례), the setting of the table to offer the meal to the deceased. Similarly, at the end of the meal, the ancestors are honoured with two deep bows followed by a lighter one called “keunjeol” (큰절).

Chuseok remains above all a festival with its share of amusements and customs.

Many traditional games, mainly practiced in the agricultural field, are organised. Ssireum (씨름) and ganggangsulae (강강술래) are the most popular.

강강술래 Ganggangsulae

Chuseok - Ganggangsullae

Women dance in a circle in traditional dress. They all sing while dancing.

In connection with the full moon, this dance represents femininity and fertility. The women express their gratitude to the sky for the harvests.

씨름 Ssireum

Traditional Korean wrestling performances take place on a sand ring.

During the fight, the opponents grab each other by the belt and fight shoulder to shoulder until one of them is thrown to the ground.

You may well have already seen this in Korean variety shows.

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Squid Game Cultural References // Hidden Meanings and Symbolism

If you haven’t watched this show yet: why?? Find out about Squid Game cultural references in characters’ names, episodes’ titles, games and more!

Typical Korean Dishes

All Koreans will tell you, during Chuseok, we eat… a lot!

It is of course the occasion to highlight many Korean specialties, including Songpyeon (송편), Jeon (전), and Japchae (잡채).

  • Songpyeon 송편: An essential part of the Chuseok table, songpyeon are colourful rice cakes steamed on pine needles. They can be filled with chestnuts, red bean paste, honey or sesame seeds.
  • Jeon 전: Korean pancakes are one of the most popular side dishes. They can be prepared with meat, seafood, vegetables or mushrooms.
  • Japchae 잡채: This side dish is often served at traditional Korean festivals. Japchae consists of sweet potato noodles mixed with vegetables and meat (usually beef) marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil.
The Best Korean Food 🇰🇷 The Top 10 Korean Dishes for New Eaters to Try Out Thumbnail

The Best Korean Food 🇰🇷 The Top 10 Korean Dishes for New Eaters to Try Out

There’s LOTS of various dishes in the Korean gastronomy. It might be hard to know what to try out first, so we selected the best Korean food for you to try.

When is Chuseok Celebrated?

It is celebrated precisely on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, during the largest full moon of the year.

Like many other public days based on the lunar calendar, its date changes every year.

In 1989, South Korea decided to grant three holiday days for Chuseok, including the day before and the day after.

This way, everyone can make the journey to their hometown and reunite with their families.

YearsDateDaysHoliday
20229 to 12 SeptemberFriday to MondayChuseok
202328 to 30 SeptemberThursday to SaturdayChuseok
202416 to 18 SeptemberMonday to WednesdayChuseok
20255 to 8 OctoberSunday to WednesdayChuseok
202624 to 26 SeptemberThursday to SaturdayChuseok

Korean Vocabulary to Know

EnglishKoreanTransliteration
Chuseok 추석 chuseok
Public holiday 공휴일 gonghyuil
Family가족gajog
Hanbok한복 hanbok
Food음식eumsig
Songpyeon송편songpyeon
Japchae잡채japchae
Jeonjeon
Galbijjim갈비찜galbijjim
Gifts선물seonmul
Moondal
Ancestor memorial services차례charye
Ancestral grave maintenance벌초beolcho
Ancestral rites 제사 Jesa
Ganggangsulae Dance강강술래ganggangsulae
Ssireum씨름ssireum
Theatrical presentations사물놀이Samulnori 
Mask dance탈춤talchum 
Traditional games전통놀이jeontongnoli
Bull fighting소싸움 sossaum
Gabae가배gabae
Have a good Chuseok추석 잘 보내세요chuseok jal bonaeseyo
Chuseok - Happy Chuseok

추석 잘 보내세요 (chuseok jal bonaeseyo) Have a good Chuseok!

If you are interested in Korean culture and you would like to know more about Korean holidays, you can check out our articles or page:

FAQ’s

When is Chuseok celebrated?

Chuseok is celebrated precisely on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, during the largest full moon of the year.

Like many other public days based on the lunar calendar, its date changes every year.

When is Chuseok celebrated in 2022?

In 2022, Chuseok is celebrated from September 9th to 12th.

When is Chuseok celebrated in 2023?

In 2022, Chuseok is celebrated from September 28th to 30th.

What do Koreans do during Chuseok?

Koreans honour the memory of their ancestors.

There are many rituals, called “Jesa” (제사).

The most common of these ancestral rites is the “Charye” (차례), the setting of the table to offer the meal to the deceased. Similarly, at the end of the meal, the ancestors are honoured with two deep bows followed by a lighter one called “keunjeol” (큰절).

This day remains above all a festival with its share of amusements and customs.

Many traditional games, mainly practiced in the agricultural field, are organised. Ssireum (씨름) and ganggangsulae (강강술래) are the most popular.

What do people eat during Chuseok?

In general Koreans eat Songpyeon (송편), Jeon (전), and Japchae (잡채).

How to write Chuseok in Korean?

Chuseok in hangul is 추석

Are there any other Korean holidays to know about?

To know more about other Korean holidays check out this page about other Korean holidays.

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