▲ Photos 1 through 4. Several days before Chuseok, family members gather to visit their ancestral grave sites. They remove weeds first of all, followed by a memorial service at the grave. Only on Jeju Island can you find that on Aug. 1 of the lunar calendar, all students are given the day off so that they can join their families for Beolcho and learn the meaning of paying their respects to their ancestors.5. Families bring food and drinks to offer to their ancestors. They perform a simplified memorial service at the grave site.6. During the rite, all family members face the graves and bow to show their respect for their ancestors.Photos by Yang Yong Jin
Around August, Jeju islanders visit their ancestors’ graves to give them a thorough cleaning. Relatives congregate during this period before Chuseok, which not only gives them a chance to meet and keep in touch but to also pay their respects to loved ones that have passed. This is called Beolcho, the act of visiting ancestral graves in order to remove weeds that have grown through the summer.
Ancestral tombs are usually scattered in several places, requiring two to three days to complete Beolcho. Still, this tradition is strong today seeing Jeju natives living on the mainland returning to the island to participate. In fact, this is such an important act that if there is no man available to perform the deed, the women in the family will ensure the graves are free of over grown grass and weeds.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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