Festivals

Friday was a traditional festival in China and Korea (and other East and South-East Asian countries). By coincidence, the first two students to arrive yesterday (Saturday) were from those two countries, so I asked them if they’d done anything special. Neither had. 

I asked the Chinese student what he would call the festival in English, and he just couldn’t say. I told him that it’s usually called ‘Mid-Autumn Festival’, and he seemed surprised at that. The Chinese name is 中秋節 (zhōngqiū jié), literally middle-autumn-festival. Other possible names in English are ‘Chinese Traditional Thanksgiving’ or ‘Harvest Moon Festival’, though with increasingly urbanised life, the link to the moon and harvest is being lost. Maybe in country areas it’s stronger.

The Korean name is 추석 (chu-soek), which might mean ‘Autumn Eve’ Google Translate simply translates it as ‘Chuseok’, and Bing Translator as ‘Thanksgiving’. Google doesn’t translate ‘chu’ and ‘seok’ by themselves as anything relevant. Bing translates ‘chu’ as ‘autumn’ , but it certainly isn’t the standard word for autumn, which is 가을, but ‘seok’ as nothing relevant.

Wikipedia also calls Chuseok by the hanja (Chinese characters traditionally used in Korea) 秋夕, qiū xī, which translates as ‘autumn eve’ (or ‘autumn evening’) (which Google and Bing both agree with). (The first character of that is the same as the second character of the Chinese festival’s name.)

For what it’s worth, Wikipedia’s article on the Chinese festival is named ‘Mid-Autumn Festival’ and the one on the Korean festival is named ‘Chuseok’. 

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