Beol-cho or cutting the weeds

It’s that time of the year again. Chuseok or the Korean harvest festival (some say “thanksgiving”) is held yearly on the 15th of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. This year Chuseok falls on the 22nd so we have a holiday from the 21st to the 23rd. Will the 20th and the 24th be a holiday too? It is really up to the employers to decide whether to give those days to their employees.

By the end of May, the grave needs some clearing.

Before the Chuseok holiday, Korean men travel back to their hometowns for “beolcho” (Hangeul: 벌초) to cut the weeds at their ancestors’ graves. My husband was supposed to go to Jecheon with his brother last Saturday, but my father-in-law told them to postpone until next week, September 11. My husband couldn’t oppose his father even if he has a marathon to join on September 12. It is his duty to his ancestors.

I have experienced “beolcho” on my second Chuseok. Together with my parents-in-law, we spent a whole day to cut the weeds and clean up OUR ancestors’ graves. It was my first time ever to do such a thing and I enjoyed that experience even when I had to work under the heat of the sun. I also had to endure the insect bites I got including a bee sting on my right arm. At least I know how it was like to get stung by a bee. And nope, I don’t wish to get stung again.

We’ve been celebrating Chuseok in Seoul for the past five years. We visit the ancestor graves after Chuseok. We don’t usually go there now during Seollal because of the cold and snow during the winter season. There is no outdoor fireplace in the mountain.

Thankfully, I don’t have to accompany my husband to the province before Chuseok. The last time I went there for “beolcho” we had to endure a seven hour traffic on the way back to Seoul!

12 thoughts on “Beol-cho or cutting the weeds

  • September 6, 2010 at 5:36 am
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    i am in korea for vacation. And i was really wondering what does cheusok mean. Cause e-mart and other malls sell gifts for that holiday. Thank you for clarification. Btw, thank to you and your website i joined to tour to the blue house! I liked it. They do offer audio-guide nowadays and give small gifts to every tourist. i find it very nice.

    Reply
    • September 6, 2010 at 10:24 am
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      Hi Elyoka! I haven’t been to the Blue House for years. I might as well go there one of these days. Hopefully during our Chuseok vacation. Enjoy your vacation.

      Oh if you haven’t been to Gyeonghuigung, visit them on Wednesday or Saturday at 2PM when they have taekwondo exhibitions. I love going there just to watch taekwondo especially when the Korean Tigers are demonstrating.

      Reply
  • September 6, 2010 at 10:56 am
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    we’re doing beol-cho on sept. 11 too…little zach and i will tag along…just tag along but won’t be doing any cleaning since little zach is way too young to go to the mountains infested with weeds, insects, and SNAKES….hahahaha. i only experienced “beol-cho” once and a SNAKE almost bit my leg(my hubby was quick enough to toss the snake out of my way)….i admire you for enjoying it because i didn’t, it’s way too hot and i also got tons of insect bites after that…..i sure hope i won’t have to do it again

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    • September 6, 2010 at 11:51 am
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      hi cher! you’re so brave… i would pass out if i ever saw a snake!
      we won’t even go with my husband on saturday since he has to be back for a marathon on sunday

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      • September 8, 2010 at 11:14 am
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        you’ll faint pag nakakita ka ng ahas? nag-enjoy ako noong nagpunta sa mountain kasi it was a first… di ba pag first time kahit na mahirap eh masarap… LOL
        first time punta ng boracay, mahirap pero masarap… first time mag-exercise mahirap pero sarap ng pakiramdam…

        Reply
  • September 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm
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    Ate, curious lang po ako. Bakit yung mga libingan po sa Korea may parang hump/small hill? Di po ba nila ginagawa yung usual na 6 feet underground?

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  • September 17, 2010 at 11:08 am
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