Ellie Byun 10th Grade / Santiago High School
Many people love the fall season. That’s when the leaves start changing into shades of orange and bronze, fun seasonal fall drinks come out, and sweatshirts become more prevalent. In Korea, one of the most important holidays of “Chuseok ‘’ known as Korean Thanksgiving, happens on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar on the full moon. “Chuseok” is also known as the Mid-Autumn moon festival in China, and for both countries, it is a celebration of the fall harvest. During this time, family and friends gather together to give thanks for the concluded harvest and enjoy festivities with lavish displays of food and drink.
In China, people celebrate by eating moon cakes filled with lotus seed paste, red bean paste, mixed nuts, or even egg yolk. In Korea, people celebrate by eating rice cakes filled with honey, black beans, sesame seeds, walnuts, chestnuts, and pine nuts. Autumn provides the opportunity to visit one’s ancestral home and gather with family and relatives.
For me, our family celebrates the traditional American Thanksgiving that falls on the second to last Thursday in November. From history, the first American Thanksgiving was celebrated by the 53 survivors of the Mayflower Pilgrims with about 90 Native American Wampanoag people. This was in celebration of the first harvest by the Pilgrims in the New World in October of 1621.
Our dinner spreads are culturally diverse, featuring popular American Thanksgiving dishes, along with traditional Korean dishes. There is almost always turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and cranberry sauce.
In recent years, many families have been unable to celebrate Thanksgiving due to the health-related concerns of their elderly members caused by COVID-19.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with only immediate family members could not replicate the experiences of celebrating with extended family members. The warmth and companionship that comes with spending time with extended family members was sorely missed. It is during events like Thanksgiving, Chuseok, and Moon Festival that we give thanks and spend quality time with our loved ones. Regardless of how much or how little we have, the importance of spending time with our friends and family cannot be overlooked.
As we prepare for this year’s Thanksgiving, we must be grateful for all that we have, especially our family members. Even though we may only see them a few times a year, the feeling of being part of a family brings great satisfaction to our souls and helps us to feel less lonely in this world.
<Ellie Byun 10th Grade / Santiago High School