Happy Chuseok!

추석 잘 보네세요!  Happy Chuseok to everyone, especially to gyopo (교포), or overseas Koreans, who cannot come home to Korea for the holiday.  We are having a quiet Chuseok get together with some family friends tonight.  My friend’s wife is from Tbilisi, Georgia (former Soviet Republic), so we’ll actually be having authentic Georgian cuisine tonight.  It sounds delicious!  I’ll let you know what we had for dinner.  Because I have the day off tomorrow, on Monday we may get together with some Korean friends for a post-Chuseok party.  It can be difficult to get together with Koreans on Chuseok if you’re not a Korean, because Chuseok, or the Full Moon festival, is a time for Korean families to reunite and spend time with family, both alive and deceased.  The Chinese also celebrate Chuseok and refer to it as Mid-Autumn Festival.  The Koreans, however, have taken the holiday to a whole new level by celebrating it as a day of remembrance.  The closest American holidays are Thanksgiving, when Americans gather with friends and family to celebrate and say thanks, and Memorial Day, when they honor those who have passed.  These holidays are not quite like Chuseok, though.
Here is my understanding of Chuseok based on numerous conversations I’ve had with Korean friends.  Chuseok is a lunar holiday that lasts three days, the duration of the full moon during harvest season.  Three days also allow Koreans enough time to reach their destination, celebrate with family, and return home by car.  Traditionally, Koreans return to their ancestral hometown to thank their ancestors for a bountiful harvest.  Because most Koreans no longer farm, the holiday now serves as time for families to reunite and pay respect to their ancestors.  Typically, the patriarch of the extended family who lives in the family’s hometown hosts a large family gathering at his home.   Families also visit their ancestral graveyard, clean up and decorate family grave sites, and have a picnic lunch near the graves of their ancestors, perhaps a grandparent or great-grandparent.   Americans too return to pay respects to their lost loved ones, although we typically do not gather for food at a cemetary.
Times have changed, and contemporary realities have also changed Chuseok.  Traffic congestion is a new, unwelcome Chuseok tradition.  Because most Koreans who live in the greater Seoul area hail from elsewhere, the city empties for a few days as families pile into the car and brave horrendous traffic to drive to their hometowns.  Seoul and cities throughout Korea host public Chuseok celebrations for those who remain in the city over the holiday.  Also, because some families’ ancestral homes lie in North Korea, these families have had to establish new, innovative ways to celebrate the holiday.  In addition, for some Koreans, Chuseok is merely an inconvenience.  Frankly, holiday travel isn’t much fun, and some Koreans prefer to not to sit in traffic for hours on end.  In addition, many cemeteries and grave sites in Korea are now tended by professional services.  This is not much different in America, where most cemeteries are manicured.  I would love to head home to the U.S. for Christmas, but because my brother will not be home, and for a few other reasons, we decided not to travel home this Christmas.  We will wait until next summer when the weather is better and traveling is more convenient.
Thanks again to everyone who stopped by World Adventurers.  Thank you for posting great comments.  I’ll try to visit your blogs too.  Here are a few responses to some of the questions I received:
Note to timeless_traveller:   It’s hard to say exactly why MSN Spaces chose to feature my blog this week, but I am glad they did.  The magic of blogs comes from the freedom it brings in allowing people to express themselves in any way they see fit, whether it be in documenting a travelogue or writing about nothing.  For me, this is a chronicle of our lives overseas as well as a way for me to share some ideas I have.  I think it’s a lot more interesting to rotate topics daily than to focus solely on cataloguing life overseas.
Note to AmyKristenI worked for Boeing for several years before I quit to pursue my MBA at the University of Washington in Seattle.  I graduated in 2003 and left Seattle in 2004.  I miss it very much!  I wouldn’t trade this life for the world, though.  I’m living out my dream.  Keep the light on in Seattle!  I’ll probably be back after I retire.
Note to Love-is-a-Verb-2How did I set up the language translation?  If you visit http://www.google.com/language_tools, then input your blog’s URL (e.g. http://spaces.msn.com/members/worldadventurers/ and select the language you want it translated into, Google will return a translated version, albeit a rough translation (I hear that the Asian translations are especially bad).  Then paste the resulting link into a list with a title, and the title will appear.  When clicked, the page will be automatically translated by Google. 
Note to JenineElisaCongratulations on your marriage, your husband’s job offer with SkyWest, happy birthday, and congratulations on 1,000 hits!  I lived in the Seattle area before I started my new job and traveled abroad.  I used to work down in Auburn not far from Federal Way and have spent quality time at Weyerhaeuser in Federal Way.  I really miss Seattle.  I still think it’s the best place in which to live on that side of the Pacific.  I have a question–how did you add a page counter and graphics to your blog header?
Note to AngeLine11285 Thanks for all your wonderful comments over the past few months.  I’m really glad you stop by and post great feedback from time to time.  I hope my remarks were positive enough about Korean dramas!  I know you like them.  🙂
Note to LyzIf you liked my blog entry on nothing, check the archives for blog entry I wrote in July about things we do unconsciously–like breathing!
Note to Rosebay_fl1 Thanks for playing the World Adventurers Game.  OK, maybe it was a little easy to figure out, but I didn’t want to make it too hard.  If I did, no one would figure it out!
Note to AnneProm1989Congratulations on recently being featured on "Best of MSN Spaces"!  Thanks too for stopping by for a visit and posting a comment.  If you go to Settings…Statistics, you can check the number of page views.  Before this site was featured on MSN Spaces, it had about 9,500 hits.  Yesterday it logged 7,000 hits and another 1,000 today.  That’s amazing.  Last month, I was excited when World Adventurers had 3,000 hits in one month, but 7,000 in one day is absolutely amazing.  We’ll see how many people visit again after the feature is over.
Note to IncognitoCatholicMom Thanks for letting me know about my son’s guestbook.  I’ll have to check out the error.  Congratulations on figuring out the World Adventurers. 🙂  Washington Huskies don’t begrudge the Huskers too much.  As long as your favorite team isn’t the USC Trojans or the Washington State Cougars, you’re OK.  LOL 
Note to Insadong Korean RestaurantThanks for the great comments!  You’ve visited World Adventurers for a long time, and I really appreciate it.  It’s my pleasure linking to your blog site.  The next time I’m in Vancouver, BC I will definitely visit your restaurant.  The food looks delicious!