|Haft-seen arrangement for the first day of Norouze|
|Ancestral memorial table setting for Chuseok (sourced from koreafix.com)|
Chuseok, also known as Myeongjeol and Hangawi is one of the biggest holidays that is celebrated in South Korea. It is also referred to as Korean Thanksgiving since it is annually commemorated on the 15th of August according to the lunar calendar with the purpose of giving praise for the bountiful harvest. Moreover, families from different districts and provinces gather together to share this special holiday by setting up a special table filled with a variety of delicious food and practicing other traditions and customs such as Charye which is the memorial services held for ancestors. The holiday is celebrated for three days excluding the weekend. That means all citizens get to have a day off during Chuseok. Now, this applies not only to the Korean citizens but also foreigners who are staying in Korea. Then the question becomes how do foreigners celebrate their holidays and Korean holidays while they are in Korea?
To get a better glimpse at how international students in CWNU spend their time during Chuseok, an interview was conducted with Samanej Hamta, a student from the department of architecture, who came all the way from Iran. Though this is her first time in Korea, she shared her insights on what she will do during this holiday and expounded on what holidays in Iran are like as well.
- Do you know about Chuseok and have you ever gotten a chance to celebrate it?
- “Unfortunately, since this is my first time in Korea, I haven’t been able to celebrate Chuseok. I briefly heard about the holiday when I boarded the plane on my way here because the lady seated next to me was kind enough to tell me about the celebration itself.”
- Is there a Thanksgiving or a national holiday that you celebrate in your country?
- “The holiday that resembles Chuseok in my country is called Nowruz. This word means “New year” and it is one of the biggest celebrations in the Iranian tradition. This holiday is annually celebrated on the 21st of March for fifteen days. On the first day, families sit and pray together at a table with a setup called haft-seen which is an arrangement of seven symbolic items that start with the letter sin in the Persian alphabet. On the second and third day, we visit our relatives to give gifts to one another, read a poem called Hafeze and do other rituals together. The rest of the days of Nowruz are spent resting, traveling, or simply having a break.”
- How are you going to spend Chuseok here? And will you be going back to Iran for Nowruz?
- “I am planning to visit many traditional places where I can witness ancient Korean architecture. Besides that, I have no specific plans, and as for Norouze, I feel that I will not be going back to Iran during that time since I have to focus on my master’s course first.”
It was very interesting to see how Thanksgiving is celebrated in Iran. If there is one thing the two holidays Chuseok and Nowruz have in common, it is that families put a lot of effort to gather and have a great time together. Though Korea and Iran might have different backgrounds and history, the purpose of Thanksgiving remains unchanged; it is a time for celebrating the bountiful harvest that provided an abundant life for the whole family.
By Baik Jong Min, Cub Reporter Jmbae1025@gmail.com
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