The Harvest Moon Festival, or Chuseok (meaning ‘Autumn Eve’), is one of Korea’s most cherished holidays.
One of the main Harvest Moon Festival traditions is the food preparation, especially of songpyun; a traditional Korean rice cake made with pine needles. In Korean, Song means ‘pine tree’ and Pyun means ‘rice cake’.
Oddly for a festival that takes place on a full moon, the traditional shape of a songpyun is a half moon. This is said to reflect the natural optimism of Koreans – a full moon can’t get any fuller, but a half moon shows there is room for improvement.
Did you know?
A custom is that if someone makes the songpyun in nice shapes, they will have a beautiful daughter.
To show you some of the background to making songpyun, we asked Sherly from Sherly’s Kitchen to take some photos as she made some songpyun to celebrate Chuseok.
The songpyun come in many difference colours. In the examples above white is just rice flour, pink using beet root, green using green tea and yellow using tumeric powder. Sherly added, “When we steam the rice cake, we always add some needles from the pine tree to give a fragrant aroma – hence the name.”
During the Harvest Moon Festival there is an offering ceremony to the family ancestors and visiting of family graves and family members use the songpyun as an offering to their ancestors.