It is Chuseok in South Korea. It is the equivalent of a Thanksgiving holiday that not only celebrates the harvest, but also a solemn time to remember a family's heritage. An odious part for some, will be the cleaning of ancestral tombs. Yes, there is a lot of bowing, feasting, amidst the large family gatherings that last for about three days. Celebrated on the 15th day of the eight month of the lunar calendar, Chuseok this year ends on the 4th of October.
When I was reading about this holiday, there was one tradition that caught my eye. The family typically gathers in a circle and they together look up at the moon to make a wish for the coming year. This is possibly a modernized tradition. In other regions, a dance called the Ganggangsullae is performed. Traditionally, this dance is performed only with women at night without any instruments. The interesting thing about the history of this dance, it predates the origins of Chuseok by 3,000 years. Young and old women dance in a circle at night under the moonlight, and start rotating clockwise. The lead singer sings a line and everyone refrains the word 'ganggangsullae'. The song progressively becomes faster. They sing about their personal hardships, relationships, and desires. When I read that description, it made me think of every chick flick that had some sort of random dancing with glasses of white wine. However, during this dance, the women would play a variety of games and this dance typical can last until dawn. Make no mistake, this is not the turkey in the oven kind of Thanksgiving that is served up in the west. This world seems to need a lot of wishes right now, but I have to say that Chuseok is one tradition that seems only reserved for the rural communities. A holiday for the harvest, that has seen the decline due to the mass migrations from rural areas. Yet, Chuseok still goes on. There is something wonderful about traditions, though they can be despised, they do hold communities together. The hanbok (traditional Korean Clothing) comes out of the closet during these high holidays, and though not much remains in the way of artifacts and ancient ruins, what does remain are these symbols and traditions. What makes a civilization last and endure for thousands of years, for the hope of lasting many more? There is a lot to be said for Korea's survivability. They are still here, where other ancient cultures are mere myths (any Babylonians around?).
So no matter where you are in the world...take a look at this harvest moon...and focus on what you do have.