How Songpyeon Became a Chuseok Staple


    September 10, 2022 08:43

    Chuseok celebrates the full harvest moon, yet during the holiday, Koreans traditionally eat songpyeon or crescent-shaped rice cakes to make their wishes come true. They are made from newly harvested rice and steamed with pine needles.
    In fact, the rice cakes used to be consumed on many joyous occasions here such as a baby's first 100 days, birthdays and other traditional holidays.
    What really draws people together is the process of making them and sharing them with neighbors, which has imbued them with a collective sense of hallowed tradition.
    Now most people buy songpyeon instead of making them at home, which is why the elderly are often heard to grumble that songpyeon do not taste like they used to.
    The rice cakes are usually prepared by kneading rice and filling the dough with sesame seeds, chestnuts and other sweet morsels. But stores often cut corners.
    Recently, even slightly glutinous bread resembling songpyeon has been offered to customers, and songpyeon come in novelty colors from mixing in pumpkin, berries, black sesame and powdered mugwort and adding red beans, honey, brown sugar and chestnuts. There are even songpyeon containing ice cream.
    Even something as deeply embedded in tradition as songpyeon is changing with the times.
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