Chuseok, or a Korean Thanksgiving

Staff Writer
Food plays an important role in this 'thanksgiving' tradition

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Songpyon, or a Korean rice cake, is tradtionally served for Chuseok.

Like Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., Chuseok (or Korean Thanksgiving Day) is one of Korea’s largest and most important holidays. Again, similar to the U.S., it is a considered to be a time for families to reunite and share a large meal.

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Alternatively know has Hangawi, the holiday has historically marked a time when Koreans (who were primarily an agrarian population until recent history), "gave thanks to their ancestors for the year’s harvest." Its actual origins are still unclear, but the custom is believed to be related to "ancient religious practices that centered around the moon."

Some of the most important Chuseok traditions involve food. The quintessential holiday dish, which is also evocative of the holiday’s lunar ties, are small rice cakes called songpyun. The half-moon cakes are composed of rice flour, stuffed with sesame seeds and/or chestnuts, and sweetened with honey before being steamed with pine needles.

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Want to try your own hand at a songpyun recipe? Click here to learn more about both classic and regional varieties.