Picture a day when families come together, gratitude fills the air, and an abundance of delicious food awaits. That’s Chuseok, a significant holiday in South Korea. Chuseok (pronounced “choo-sock”) falls on the 15th day of the lunar calendar’s 8th month. Along with Lunar New Year, it is considered one of the most important traditional festivals of the year. Chuseok is about celebrating the harvest, honoring ancestors, and cherishing family bonds, it’s often likened to Thanksgiving in Korea. Families gather, ancestral rites are performed, and wishes for a prosperous future are made. While some families uphold every tradition, others adapt to modern life by simplifying their celebrations,
The Korean “Moon Cake”: Songpyeon
Just like how we celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore by gifting (and sometimes making) mooncakes, Korea’s Mid-Autumn festival has its own culinary treasure: Songpyeon. Traditionally, Songpyeons are half-moon-shaped rice cakes brimming with delicious fillings. Its crescent shape represents the moon and symbolizes unity, while its sweet fillings encapsulate the family’s hope for a sweet life.
Nowadays, Songpyeons are available in many beautiful and creative shapes. They are fun and easy to craft, making it a perfect communal activity for young and old alike. Leading up to the festival, families would often come together to create their favourite variations together. These variations include:
- Sesame Songpyeon: The most common, filled with sugar and sesame seeds.
- Jat (Pine Nut) Songpyeon: These are luxurious and silky, filled with pine nuts.
- Ssuk (Mugwort) Songpyeon: Infused with the aromatic essence of mugwort.
Crafting Your Own Songpyeon
Alongside our conducting Korean language lessons, Sejong Korean Language School also organizes Korean cultural events for our Korean language course students as well as members of the public to join. One of our most popular annual events is our Songpyeon-making event held right before the Mid-Autumn festival at our school’s main campus in Tanjong Pagar, Singapore. At this event, our Korean class students, family, friends, and new participants come together to create pretty pieces of songpyeon, and place them nicely in traditionally decorated boxes. It is not necessary to be able to speak Korean to attend the event as it is conducted in English so that even our students learning Beginners Korean, or even new attendees who are not from our Korean school, may participate! It’s a fantastic way to bond with family and friends while keeping the spirit of the Mid-Autumn festival alive. By making your own, you’ll also have the chance to savor the sweet rewards of your labor fresh from the steamer! This year, our songpyeon-making event will be held on 24 September 2023, Sunday at 6:30pm. All the ingredients will be prepared for you, and we’ll guide you through the songpyeon-making process.
Would you like to try your hand at making songpyeon? There’s a belief in Korea, that if you make Songpyeon nicely (in a pretty shape), you will have a beautiful baby. So, how about you come join us in making pretty songpyeons on 24 September 2023? Simply write to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the event details and registration link!
A Modern Twist on Chuseok
Chuseok traditions have evolved over time. Many now prefer the convenience of purchasing songpyeon from local rice cake bakeries, readily available in stores during the Chuseok season.
In Singapore, you can find these delightful treats at Korean rice cake shops like Hodunamu (Walnut Tree) and Bosong Rice Cake. However, if you would like to fully experience the festival by coming together to celebrate and share your love and gratitude with others, do consider joining our songpyeon-making class!
Written by: Ms Im Minju, September 2023