One of the biggest things on our list here in South Korea was experiencing church in Korean. We haven’t quite accomplished that yet, but we did have the opportunity to get our first taste of Chuseok celebrations in South Korea with one of our sister wards in Cheonan. Just 45 minutes from Sosabeol, it was a no-brainer. We had the opportunity to dress up, make a traditional Korean treat, and meet some of our fellow brothers and sisters all in one day.
Chuseok Celebrations in South Korea
Our church services are traditionally held on post, but there are plenty of LDS wards out in Korea. With different COVID restrictions though, we’ve been avoiding church off post. A friend of ours, however, said that one of the sisters at the Cheonan ward, Sister Moon, wanted to invite some Americans to experience part of traditional Chuseok celebrations with them in South Korea.
Chuseok literally translates to “Korean Thanksgiving” and is a three-day celebration celebrated in Korea. Traditionally, Chuseok is a harvest celebration in which traditional activities including Charye – memorial services for ancestors – and Seongmyeo – family visits to ancestral graves where they tidy and honor them. In modern times, Chuseok is more commonly known for its abundance of good food and familial gatherings. So, we gathered with some of the sisters and the primary children to learn to make Songpyeon, a traditional rice dish.
The sweet sisters purchased two hanbok, one for Mieke and one for Spencer, so both dressed up in traditional garb. Porter didn’t seem to care too much about not wearing the hanbok, but he was definitely ready to be hands-on with the prepping of the songpyeon. The sisters prepared both mung beans and black beans to stuff the songpyeon.
The sisters taught the kiddos the proper shape of the songpyeon, which is the shape of a half-moon. I’ll be completely honest; most of our little American songpyeon ended up looking like really fat tacos. Nevertheless, the half moon shape is supposed to indicate and call for a brighter future. I don’t know about you all, but I’m here for that after the last few years!
It was honestly so neat to experience a little taste of Chuseok celebrations in South Korea. Chuseok celebrations will run from September 20 – 22nd, and this was so fun to not only try our hands at a traditional dish, but also to experience our new church here in Korea. As hard as this transition to a new country has been, having the opportunity to immerse ourselves into the culture here has been such an absolute treat.