According to the lunar calendar, today is the Mid-Autumn Festival Day, celebrated in many of the Asian Countries. In Korea, it is called the Harvest Festival (Chuseok), and Great Middle of Autumn Festival (Hangawi). Celebrated on the 15th day of the lunar calendar. We have three red-letter days, which gives many families a chance to spend time with their extended family. Both Korean Catholic Weeklies gave space to the holiday.
Today families remember the past. In the morning, they will have the rites in the home, in which they remember the dead ancestors. The Catholic Church at one time opposed the rites because of the mixture of superstitious elements within the rites, but with the passage of time and the education level of the people changing, the rites were recognized as a civil practice, and encouraged by the Church.
Most citizens continue this practice, but most Protestants do not. The remembrance of the dead is a beautiful practice which Catholicism has incorporated into the liturgy on Chuseok with a short version of the office of the dead during the Mass. Koreans would also go to the graves to cut the grass and beautify the burial sites, during the days preceding or shortly after.
During this time of the year cities will be empty for families will return to their hometowns for family reunions, enjoy their time together, and perform the family rites. Thanksgiving for the new harvest and the bonds of family make it the Asian Thanksgiving Day.
For many in Korea, they are facing an economic slump which will bring a chillness to the festivities of the holidays. This Sunday is also the last one for the month of the martyrs.
Shortly after the holidays we will have the bishops' synod on the family, and the examination of the problems families face. The extreme individualism and materialism continue to inundate society with deleterious results on the family: not something new but a challenge to the Church.
Korea has one of the highest divorce rates of the member countries in OECD. From an agrarian society where the family bonds were important, we have moved to a society in which the young people have accepted the individualism from the West. The editorial wonders what the Autumn festival will look like in the future when the young become the corner stone of society.
No matter how much society changes family needs to remain at the center. At this time of the year, we need to remind ourselves of this reality. God is with us, and we have to do what is necessary to make the bonds of family stronger in the years ahead.