What is Chuseok?
Chuseok 추석 is explained to foreigners as "Korean Thanksgiving". Like Thanksgiving, it is a harvest festival held around the equinox and like Thanksgiving, families gather to share food. The word Chuseok itself means "autumn evening". Usually Korean people will travel from the cities they live in to their ancestral hometowns so that they can prepare meals together and pay respects to their ancestor's spirits. (Tip: It makes traveling a bit of a headache so if you have holiday plans, try to purchase your transportation as early as possible.)
Songpyeon 송편 is one of the traditional foods prepared for Chuseok. It's made from tteok (rice cake) and stuffed with a variety of different things such as sesame seeds, black beans, cinnamon, honey and walnuts. The little dumpling looking things are steamed with pine needles to give it extra flavor and also for decoration. You can buy them at street markets, but I was given my first songpyeon by an ajumma (a respectful term for a married or aged woman) that rescued Rob and I from wild hogs and other night terrors on our way down from a hike in Gyeryongsan National Park. That story deserves a post of it's own, I'll work on that.
Chuseok weekend is one of the only vacations that Rob got this year and since we don't have any Korean ancestors to bow to, we decided to join the hash group in Daejeon on a little island run that they were preparing. So you're probably wondering something along the lines of...
What is hashing?
Hashing is a excellent mix of a social gathering and a workout. A little exercise and a little beer. Sometimes there's more of one than the other and you can never be sure which side the scale will fall on, but that's where the fun lies. Hashing started in Malaysia as a running club for expats, the original members came up with the title Hash House Harriers and modeled the events after the British game paper chase. The most famous hash that I know about is The Red Dress Run in New Orleans, LA put on by NOH3. (New Orleans Hash House Harriers)