The 4th of October was Chuseok which is a big and important holiday for Koreans. What comes to mind when you think of ‘Chuseok?’ Images such as visiting relatives, eating good food, and visiting ancestral graves pop up into your head. The day reminds us to be grateful for our ancestors after the harvest. Other countries also have holidays similar to Chuseok. Let’s look at the holiday culture of each country.
First, America has its famous ‘Thanksgiving Day.’ It is well known for being the traditional holiday of North America. America established the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day. And it stems from the day when the Puritans who emigrated to the New World celebrated their first harvest. On Thanksgiving Day, Americans eat a roast turkey which is ‘stuffed’ with several ingredients such as bread mixed with herbs and spices and then roasted in an oven. So it is also called 'Turkey Day.' Americans believe that they should eat hot and abundant food on Thanksgiving Day.
There is also ‘Mid Autumn Day’ of China. Mid Autumn Day falls on August 15th by the lunar calendar and has three main themes. Chinese hold a memorial rite for a good harvest and peace for the family. And they make a wish to the full moon. They eat mooncake on Mid Autumn Day. It is shaped like a full moon and stuffed with red bean paste, fruit, meat, and so on. There are several variations of mooncake across the regions of China. In Hong Kong, people hold a Lantern Festival by which they hang lanterns and wish upon moon or the lanterns.
‘Bon Festival’ of Japan is similar to Chuseok. But it is not public holiday. The Bon Festival is the fifteenth of August and originated from the Buddhist ritual that consoles the dead man's spirit. The Japanese visit their ancestors’ graves and eat ‘Dango’, a Japanese traditional rice cake, with their family. They wear a yukata, the traditional dress of Japan and perform traditional dances at a temple. In addition, they decorate their homes with cucumbers and eggplants shaped like horses and cows. On the last day, the Okuribi ceremony occurs in Kyoto; that’s about letting go of an ancestor’s soul.
‘St. Dimitri's Day’ of Russia falls on a Saturday just before November 8th. It comes from the celebration that cherishes the memory of Dmitry Donskoy who died while defeating the Mongolian military. Russians share food made of the newly harvested grain and fruit with family. And they visit their ancestors’ grave.
Likewise, each country has its own holiday culture and traditions. Everyone celebrates the harvest and shares it with the family. If you have a chance, why don’t you experience different holiday cultures?