Sunday, 7 September 2014

Happy Chusoek / Moon Festival

Today is Chusoek in Korea and what the Chinese refer to as the Harvest Moon Gestivdl. It is customarily the 15th day (always the full moon)  of the 8th month in the lunar calendar.  It is always the largest full moon of the whole year and at around 6 pm your local time is meant to be the fullest for the year. It is the Asian equivalent of Thanksgiving. 

In most Asian countries that follow both the lunar and gregorian calendars it is noted as the second most important holiday of the year after the new year.

While people celebrate the usual way of commemorating holidays, in Korea there are some holiday rites that may seem peculiar to foreigners.

Most families will visit dead relatives graves and honor them by first bowing but also having a picnic in front of the tomb.

What is an interesting sight to some is that families are known to pour a bottle if the deceased choice of either sake or beer over the tomb and stick a lit cigarette in the grave. 

But what can be appreciated universally is that people give gifts like westerners do over the end of year Christmas and Hannukah season.  But the presents are always food of some kind. 
Meat and an ornamentsl box of fruits ( like one of the individually wrapped melons we got today) in season are a popular choice which symbolise the harvests at this time.

In Korea and Japan, it is etiquette to wrap presents more so than other cultures. In fact not only is wrapping paper used but a special silk or cotton cloth is used to cover the item. 

In Korea, it is referred to as bojagi and in Japan it is called furoshiki.

It is a custom I have only seen in these two countries thus far and I was do delighted to see people still maintain this tradition. 

 In fact there is a special bojagi that was mainly used by the korean royal family that was always embroidered.
Korea seems to have concentrated more on the embroidery side.

In Japan, many furoshiki have evolved to tie dyeing and the use of special indigo dyes.

In the spirit of modern oneupmanship, my mother received a Chusoek present a few years ago in an expensive silk scarf but luckily that hasn't caught on and traditional arts are kept alive although there are modern polyester varieties also available.

I am in Korea for the holidays at present so I would like to wish you a happy Chusoek / autumn / spring equinox. 

I also want to say that readers Kate and Constance Snow have won the giveaway. Please email me on

Pps please excuse this format but I am using the blogger app...


  1. A very happy Moon Festival to you too Naomi!

    The Korean cemetery is rather beautiful. That seems an odd thing to say. But the undulating mounds have great simple peacefulness and uncluttered artistry to them.

    So nice to have traditions. Love the embroidery.

  2. Hello Naomi,
    A very happy Moon Festival to you! How exciting that you are in Korea for this very special time.

    This is all so intriguing. We knew nothing of this. It is always so enchanting when traditions and customs are kept, thereby keeping cultures alive. It is the differences in cultural traditions which make travel so endlessly fascinating!


  3. Hi Naomi,

    Happy Moon Festival!! My relatives also celebrate the Moon Festival - it is a big deal in Taiwan. Moon cakes are given as presents and my mother says it is important to pray to the Moon Goddess.

    The embroidery on the bojagi is beautiful!! Hope all is well with you!

  4. Thanks for showing the Korean photos and telling us about the customs. Ive always liked those full Korean dresses.

    I was in China for the moon festival a few years ago , ate a lot of moon cakes

  5. Dear Naomi
    Best wishes to you and your family for the Moon Festival. The children (both the little girls and boys) in traditional dress looks so beautiful. Also love the embroidered wrapping cloths - such pretty colours and such gorgeous work. The simpler indigo ones are also lovely.
    Hope the holidays are going well. Best wishes, Pammie xx

  6. Hi Naomi, thank you for this, very interesting. Happy Moon Festival to you too! I knew about furoshiki but didn't know that Koreans have a similar thing - the wrappings are very beautiful.

  7. Well, here's to mooning ya baby. Happy, happy, happy. The embroidery is beautiful.

  8. Happy Moon Festival. What a wonderful tradition. I'm going to spread the word that it's a great idea to wrap gifts in Hermes scarves!

  9. Thank you for sharing this! So interesting hearing about the occasions celebrated by different cultures and countries!

    1. You've win the giveaway so please email me your address😊

  10. Happy moon festival to you! I noticed how big the moon was last night, and made the children come out to have a look at it, it would have been around 6pm too! Love hearing about the celebration, and the tomb picnicking. I've always loved the way gifts are wrapped so beautifully in Japan, it's interesting it's done in Korea as well, and no where else? Enjoy the family time (I hope!) x

  11. Naomi, thanks for the introduction to the Moon Festival. Wrapping presents in silk scarves is lovely and I can see why the silk trade is so robust in South Korea and Japan.

  12. So interesting. There's a Korean sewing technique called pogaji, and i wonder if it's related. You can see an example here.

  13. We had our Harvest Full moon last night. One of the brightest in a long time! Be nice to get a silk wrapped gift!

  14. Love the wrapping, but still haven't found a Moon Cake I liked very much. Happy Moon Viewing to you!

  15. Happy Chuseok. I would like it very much if my family came to eat at my grave.

  16. Happy Chusoek, Naomi. I love this. Booze on the grave. Brilliant.

  17. Well that was completely educational for me because I didn't know any of this. From now on I'm going to request all my gifts be wrapped in silk hee hee. Hope you're having a lovely time xx

  18. have fun in Korea. Think my last comment got eaten x

  19. Love the wrapped in silk idea. Not the same, but myMum often wraps gifts in a linen T-towel or a hand towel as she hates the expense/waste of wrapping paper. A legacy of living in poverty as a child I expect. Loved the interesting post and enjoy your Chusoek celebrations. Tonkath x

  20. what a fascinating and beautiful post, thank you for broadening my horizons, i knew nothing about this festival

  21. Funny I'm learning some stuff here :)

  22. Funny about the cigarette - and why not? Love that the relatives have a picnic there, its bringing the dead into their lives in a meaningful and everyday way. have a wonderful break, Naomi!


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