Happy Ch’useok~!!!

21 Sep

***

One of the most exciting parts about living in another country is experiencing its various different festivals, holidays and traditional ceremonies…

In Japan I experienced “成人の日/Seijin no Hi” – the “coming of age” day for all those who turned 20 during the previous year (particularly special as I also had turned 20 over the previous year), as well as other various summer festivals and even New Years Eve, Japanese stylee, atop a snow covered mountain…

Now I will also have the chance to experience the festivals and holidays of South Korea… But this time I am particularly excited and grateful as I will be experiencing (and celebrating) them with a native family…

***

추석/CH’USEOK

Ch’useok is a major Autumn harvest festival celebrated in Korea over the course of 3 days. During this time many Korean people return to their hometowns to be with family, to gorge on traditional foods particular to the festival, and to pray to their ancestors…

This time around, rather than go to their hometown, my Abba’s family has gathered here in Seoul to celebrate…

***

The day started like any other – I woke up at 10am to my alarm clock (and the sound of Omma’s voice calling me) and rolled out of bed to another awesome breakfast… Recently I have been feeling stuffed to the brim with food and so don’t seem to have much of an appetite… However I am also very much of the opinion that good food is bad to waste and so I happily munched my way through as much of it as I could…

After breakfast Omma asked me if I was ok to amuse myself for a few hours, while she and Abba went to Abba’s older brother’s house to have a family gathering. Of course I was cool with that and had plenty to do – study, choir singing practice, watch “Personal Preference” for the hundredth time and finish drawing a portrait of Lee Min Ho….. (^_^;;)

So, after they left, I set up camp in the living room with my laptop, textbook and notebook, drawing stuff and a large plate of PODO/포도 – Red Grapes (two large bunches to be exact).

The sky was horribly dark and rain was thundering down with a vengeance all day long (prompting me to wonder if another typhoon was coming) and as such I shut the outer windows to block out the noise of the rain and thunder. For those of you who have played “Left 4 Dead 2” you will know what I mean when I say that the view from my window looked like a scene out of “Hard Rain”…

***

Lunch consisted of homemade Kalbi (of which I have memorized the recipe), some vegetable side dish and rice. Didn’t each much again, but around an hour later I proceeded to attack the grapes – at the very least I will always eat fruit like Grapes and Watermelon…

A couple of episodes of Personal Preference, a couple more pages of my textbook finished and a bunch and a half of Podo later, I got sleepy and snoozed, sprawled out on the floor where I was parked…

Around 30 mins later I was woken up by the sound of a particularly loud crash of thunder and then the phone ringing – it was Omma asking how things were going and if I had eaten yet (which seems to be the favorite question of Korean people – much like the Brits ask about the weather). She then asked if I wanted to join them. Of course I was very happy to do so and so hurried off with a fresh cup of coffee to get ready before Omma came to pick me up…

Luckily I had anticipated this and thus had already showered, done my hair and applied most of my makeup earlier on in the day. SO (for once) I didn’t have much to do and by the time Omma got home I was ready to roll! (i’m sure those who know me well will be very shocked and won’t believe it, but it is true!!! ;p )

***

Off we went, together, to Abba’s eldest brother’s house and along the way I rehearsed what I would say as a greeting in my head so as not to freeze up like usual…

Once there, we were greeted by the whole gang – Abba’s older brother, eldest brother and their wives and children. I bowed politely, fully introduced myself and made sure to ask the family members I had met in Boseon if they were in good health. They greeted me warmly and ushered me in while praising my “good” Korean…

The women proceeded to bustle about in the kitchen and I sat down to watch TV in the living/dining area with the men – I offered to help many times but was told to just relax and take it easy…

While we waited, I talked to Abba about Korean art and made a list of things that I wanted to study while over here – 한옥/Hanok (Traditional Korean houses), 한복/Hanbok (Traditional Korean dress), 칠보/Ch’ilbo and 나전 칠기/Najeon Ch’ilgi (Korean laquerware), 청자/Ch’eongja and 백자/Paekja (Celadon and White porcelain pottery), and various other Korean specific traditional art related things…

Pretty soon a banquet of assorted Kimchi, vegetable side dishes, soup, rice and other assorted traditional food, was laid out in front of me and, once assembled, we began to eat…

I tried everything apart from the raw fish and crab and didn’t find much that I didn’t like – I even tried the grilled Alabone!!! However my favorite food on the table was 송편/Songp’yeon:

Songp’yeon is a kind of glutinous rice cake sweet with a semi-sweet/sweet filling and is muchos tasty!

Finally, after the meal we cleared up and then the family gathered again to relax and converse over masses of fruit (MORE PODO!!!! ^-^) and a sort of sweet honey ginger rice soup (will find out the name later…).

***

When it was time to go home, I made sure to thank Abba’s eldest brother’s wife by saying – 맛있게 먹어서 고맙습니다! (Thank you very much, the meal was delicious!) – then I bowed, said goodbye to everyone and left.

***

It is safe to say that today was a wonderful day and I have never felt so stuffed in my life! Let’s hope that tomorrow will be just as good…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: