|▲ songpyeon filled with various ingredients.|
Chuseok, one of South Korea's biggest holidays, is coming up next week. As for the big holidays in Korea, Korean New Year and Chuseok are the representative events. Korean New Year, commonly known as Seollal, is the first day of the lunar calender. Unlike Seollal, Chuseok involves presenting crops harvested in early fall to ancestors. Chuseok is on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, and is designated as a national holiday on the eve of Chuseok, Chuseok day, and the following day.
So, what Koreans usually do on Chuseok? Most commonly, Koreans have an ancestor memorial service in the morning. Here, charye means a ceremony to express gratitude to ancestors for the food by preparing food for them.
After this morning's memorial service, people enjoy various traditional games with their family members and relatives. The most representative game of Chuseok is Ganggang sullae.
Ganggang sullae is the traditional Korean circle dance done by woman under the bright full moon. The song called <Ganggangsullae> is played, and when women sing this song and dance in circles, a lively female spirit and the Korean national sentiment is beautifully expressed. What's interesting about Ganggang sullae is that it has been passed down as independent 'gang sullae' depending on the region. Therefore, the methods in which ganggang sullae are passed down from one area to another, and the meaning of ganggang sullae varies depending on the region. Ganggang sullae, the signature of Chuseok, is Korea's Intangible Cultural Property No. 8 and was selected as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Property in 2009.
So, what do Koreans usually eat on Chuseok? Songpyeon is one of the representative traditional foods of Chuseok. On New Year's Day, people eat rice cake soup with the idea of getting older, but on Chuseok, they make songpyeon with gratitude for the year's harvest. Songpyeon is a half-moon shaped rice cake filled with various ingredients such as chestnut, beans, and sesame. In the process of making songpyeon, put the desired ingredients in the dough by kneading the rice flour and press hard with both fingers. And since songpyeon is a dish made with pine needles, put clean pine needles on the bottom of a basket and steam the songpyon on top. There is a popular belief that when making such delicious songpyeon, if a single woman makes a pretty songpyeon, she will marry a good spouse. And if a pregnant woman makes it pretty, a pretty daughter will be born.
The Kunsan Museum of Modern History will also hold various events for a total of four days from September 12 to 15. Operating hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free on the day of Chuseok (16th), and visitors can enter without charge if they wear hanbok during the event (from 12th to 15th). In addition to the Samulnori performance, a Korean music performance, traditional Korean snacks will also hold events that offer 2,000 people free of charge. The schedule and details of the event can be found on the Kunsan Museum of Modern History website(http://museum.gunsan.go.kr). As it is a big event in Korea only once a year, I hope it will be a time for you to enjoy and experience the event in person.
Song Jeong Eun
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