Happy Chuseok! (& the National Museum of Korea)

Today we celebrated Chuseok, the Full Moon Harvest (is there any better sounding name for a holiday? It sounds so delightful and abundant and full of mystery), which is a major holiday in Korea, and includes honoring ancestors. I’ve never taken part in this ritual before, and it was a really nice moment in which to be included, honoring Don’s (and Uncle Sam and Aardvark’s) and Aunt Hye Sook’s ancestors. It made me reflect on all the people it took to get to my little family of Don, Aardvark and me, and very grateful to be part of such wonderful people and intricate webs of family. So, to any of my family members and those of the family I married into, thank you so much for being part of our lives! We love you 🙂

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Chilling in her hanbok, with her buddies and her “chestnuts” (chess pieces) in the beautiful hanbok bag (I’m sure there’s a real term for it, but I don’t know it!) after the ceremony. Aardvark LOVES this outfit and all its twirly capabilities.

After the ceremony and lunch, we met up with more family and went to a special Chuseok performance at the National Museum of Korea (which is huge, and amazing, including the lovely park grounds surrounding it. We’ll have to go back and get better photos!)

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Under the 10-story pagoda

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So many stories I couldn’t fit them all in the photo!

The music and dance performance was incredible. I’ll post videos later.

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Aardvark claims she wants to do this when she is a little bigger.

I say, not a chance. This is one activity I am not letting her choose for herself! It was terrifying to even watch, but the little girl on top was an amazing performer (as were all of them, but she had the scariest role throughout!)

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These statues are apparently “Men of letters” (i.e. scholars)  and since, technically speaking, we are men (and women) of letters ourselves, Don wanted to take a picture with them.img_4471

Perhaps the little one will be too one day?

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Uncle Sam and Aunt Hye Sook are also people of letters. Don’s family is pretty talented!

So this is a strange story:

There is a huge park with many different areas connected by a winding path surrounding the museum. One of the areas, about halfway through the park, features all these 10th century pagodas. We passed through it on the way to the museum, but didn’t have time to stop. So on the return, we wanted to take pictures with Aardvark amongst these incredible ancient pagodas. When we reached them, Aardvark, who had been chatting about “needing to find” someone as we walked (I wasn’t quite following), refused to take a picture with the pagodas, claiming she wanted to take a picture with Buddha instead.

“But there are no Buddhas here,” we pointed out. There were lots of Buddhas in the museum (none of which she had seen yet, they were all on floors we did not visit), if she wanted to go back to the museum. She insisted there was a Buddha statue and started to make her way back towards the museum, claiming it was just down the path. We continued to protest, but follow her (since she was determined and pretty much running to wherever she was going).

At some point, a smaller , windy path branched out off the main one, and Aardvark confidently strode ahead, proclaiming that Buddha was just down the path.

“Aards, none of us have ever been down this path. There’s no Buddha statue here,” I told her.

And then I rounded a corner behind her and nearly fell over: ahead of us was in fact a slightly larger-than-life Buddha statue. COMPLETELY hidden from view from the main path (and, we double-checked, from any of the paths we had walked on that day). These statues were simply not visible from anywhere else on the grounds except a ways down this small offshoot of a path. Also, prior to today, the only Buddha statues she’d seen were the ones at Jogyesa, the temple we went to the other day – and none of them looked like this. So I don’t know how she even recognized thus as a Buddha statue.

We asked her how she knew, and she told us her invisible friend (a frequent companion of hers), told her the statue was down the path.

(Perhaps it is actually the Eightfold Path?! Ah, religious studies jokes. I crack myself – and likely only myself – up.)

Anyway, she was totally right, so we took her picture with Buddha (and is that Avalokitesvara/Cannon – or who Cannon is called in Korea? – on the left?) as requested!

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