It is officially the night before Chuseok, one of the biggest national holidays here in Korea. I often like to compare Chuseok to America’s Thanksgiving. (If you’re not familiar with the holiday, read about it here) While they might not be the exact same, the magnitude of the two holidays sure is similar. Big feasts, family gatherings, travel nightmares, etc…
This year I’ll be spending my second Chuseok with the family since I’ve returned to Korea. It’s also something I should get used to since last year I was so busy with just trying to adjust to my new life at my new/old home and I didn’t really get to fully enjoy the holiday. As the buzz and excitement around Chuseok continues to build up, there are some thoughts that inevitably popped up in my head:
- This is weird/cool? (But I can get used to this…) I’m actually celebrating a holiday that is relevant to my mother culture? What?? This might sound a bit bizarre to some, but if you are a fellow TCK like me, this might resonate with you. I grew up not celebrating most of the Korean holidays. I did, however, experience a lot of other culture’s holidays due to the fact I was physically present in other countries.
- I actually have to care. Of course, I don’t mean that in a bad way. Watching my family prep for the holiday made me realize that Chuseok is actually relevant to me and my heritage. When I lived abroad, the holidays I celebrated were a chance for me to experience different cultures and participate in the celebration. Don’t get me wrong – I loved all the Thanksgiving dinners, the Zhongqiujie moon cakes, etc. 😉 But I think it’s time for me to get in touch with my roots.
- I actually belong. Shoutout to all the lonely troopers who spent various holidays in an empty dormitory or an apartment (or even a town), whether you’re a TCK or a non-TCK. When I lived in Seattle, my typical holidays went two ways. My friends who lived nearby would invite me over to spend the holidays with their family. If not, I would spend the holiday in a dorm room or an empty apartment, living off of frozen meals (or just cereal when I’m extra lazy) or ice cream because the grocery stores nearby were all closed. I would spend another celebrated day without experiencing any significance whatsoever; it would be just another typical day for me. The cool thing about Chuseok or other Korean holidays is that the sense of belonging is pretty much guaranteed. No more worrying about what to stock up on before grocery stores close!
What has been your favorite holiday that you celebrated outside your culture? Let me know down in the comments below – I would love to read about them. 🙂