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What Is Korean Chuseok? (Korean Thanksgiving)

by Emily

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Around this time every year, people in South Korea prepare to celebrate an important cultural holiday known as Chuseok. While businesses, government offices, and schools close down for the national noliday, the roads, trains, and buses become congested with people heading home to spend time with their families.

In South Korea, there are two major national holidays. The first is ‘Chuseok’ (추석), meanings ‘Autumn’s Eve.’ The other is ‘Seollal’ (설날), known as ‘New Year’s Day’ in English. 

Here, we will discuss Chuseok–First, we will learn about the holiday. Then, we will discuss when people in Korea celebrate Chuseok as well as how to say the proper Chuseok greetings. 

What Is Korean Chuseok?

Like I stated above, ‘Chuseok’ (추석), literally means ‘Autumn’s Eve.’ It is a traditional harvest festival celebrated over three days in both North and South Korea. Traditionally, the harvest festival allowed farmers to take a rest and celebrate the fruits of their labor. Nowadays, people visit their hometowns to spend time with their families, eat a traditional meal, and visit the graves of family members who passed away.

According to historians, Chuseok most likely dates back to the third kingdom of Silla (57 BC to 935 AD). At the time, the festival may have also included competition and demonstrations. Historians and scholars also point to Chuseok originating from shamanistic celebrations of the harvest moon, local deities, and ancestors.  

Note: You may have noticed that many people outside of the Korean peninsula refer to Chuseok as ‘Korean Thanksgiving.’

A present and letter sitting together for Chuseok.
Typically, People Prepare Gifts for Family and Friends for Chuseok. Often, Younger People Buy Large Presents and Gift Boxes for Their Parents.

When Is Chuseok?

People celebrate Chuseok on the full moon of the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. 

Note: The Lunar calendar is based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases. In contrast, most of the world uses the Gregorian calendar–a type of solar calendar whose annual cycles are solely based on the solar year. While people in South Korea use the Gregorian calendar for everyday life and events, many of their traditional holidays are still based on the lunar calendar known as Dangun calendar (단군; 檀君).

Past, Present, and Future Chuseok Dates:

Below, we listed some past dates of Chuseok as well as future dates. Also, The selected date in bold is the current year. 

  • 2019: 9월 13일–September 13, 2019
  • 2020: 10월 1일–October 1, 2020
  • 2021: 9월 21일–September 21, 2021
  • 2022: 9월 10일–September 10, 2022
  • 2023: 9월 29일–September 29, 2023
An overhead shot of a traditional Korean Chuseok meal known as songpyeon.
People Eat Songpyeon (Half-Moon Shaped Rice Cakes) During Chuseok.

Korean Chuseok Greetings: How to Say ‘Happy Chuseok’ in Korean

In Korea, it is important to properly greet your elders, families, and friends for the holidays. Below, we list some important phrases to learn to say if you ever find yourself in Korean for the Chuseok holidays.

즐거운 한가위 보내세요. 

Jeulgeoun Hangawi Bonaeseyo. 

‘I Hope You Have A Happy Thanksgiving’

좋은일만 가득하세요.

Joeunilman Gadeukaseyo.

‘I Wish You All The Best’

즐겁고 행복한 추석 보내시길 바랍니다.

Jeulgeopgo Haengbokan Chuseok Bonaesigil Baramnida.

‘We Wish You A Happy And Wonderful Chuseok’

Note: This greeting is usually shared among family members.

마음까지 넉넉해지는 풍성한 한가위 보내세요.

Maeumkkaji Neokneokhaejineun Pungseonghan Hangawi Bonaeseyo.

‘Have A Full-Hearted And Generous Hangawi’

가족들과 함께 즐거운 추석 보내세요.

Gachokdeulgwa Hamkke Cheulkeoun Chuseok Bonaeseyo.

‘Have A Nice Chuseok With Your Family’

For further greetings, I recommend checking out the greetings page on this website all about Chuseok. You can read in-depth about Chuseok as well as learn some cultural tips. 

We Hope You Have a Happy Chuseok This Year!

In the end, we hope you enjoyed learning the basic information about Chuseok. If so, let us know in the comment section below. Also, if you celebrate Chuseok, what are your family traditions?

If you would like to read more about Korean culture and cooking, you can find further articles and recipes on our blog. We listed some of our favorite Carving A Journey Korean recipes below! For reference, many recipes are influenced by our blended Korean and Southern heritage.

Traditional Korean Recipes:

Popular and Trendy Korean Recipes:

If you have any questions or comments, you can also email us at [email protected].

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마음까지 넉넉해지는 풍성한 한가위 보내세요.

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