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Hangul 칠석
Hanja 七夕
Revised Romanization Chilseok
McCune–Reischauer Ch'ilsŏk

Chilseok is a Korean traditional festival which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Korean lunisolar calendar, originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival. Chilseok is a period where the heat starts to dwindle and the monsoon season begins, and the rain that falls during this period is called Chilseok water. As pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons start to flourish during this period, people traditionally offered fried pumpkins to the Great Dipper.

The story of Chilseok[edit]

According to a notable Korean folktale, a heavenly king had a daughter called Jiknyeo (Hangul: 직녀, Hanja: 織女), who was a talented weaver. One day, when she looked out of the window while weaving, she saw a young man, a herder called Gyeonwu (Hangul: 견우, Hanja: 牽牛), just across the Milky Way, and fell in love with him; the father allowed the two to bear marriage. Afterwards, Jiknyeo did not want to weave clothes, and Gyeonwu did not take good care of the cows and sheep. The king grew furious, and ordered the couple to live separate ways, allowing them to meet only once a year. On the seventh day of the seventh month of each year, they were excited to meet each other, but could not cross the Milky Way. However, crows and magpies worked together to form a bridge across the Milky Way for the couple. After a while, their sadness returned, for they were forced to wait another year before meeting again. It is believed crows and magpies have no feathers on their heads because of the couple stepping on their heads. If it rains on that night, it is believed to be the couple's tears.

Chilseok customs[edit]

On Chilseok, Koreans traditionally take baths for good health. In addition, it is traditional to eat wheat flour noodles and grilled wheat cakes. Chilseok is known as the last chance to enjoy wheat-based foods, since the cold winds after Chilseok ruin the scent of wheat. People also used to eat wheat pancakes called miljeonbyeong (밀전병), and sirutteok, a steamed rice cake covered with azuki beans.

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