Food Custom on Chusok

Chusok or Harvest Moon Day is a traditional folk holiday of Korea. Ancient Koreans used lunar calendar. Chusok is August 15 by lunar calendar.

This year Chusok falls on September 8 by solar calendar.

The main thing on Chusok was visit to the ancestral tombs. Each family regarded it as duty to visit their ancestral tombs with food offerings made from new crops of the year. The custom was based on respect of ancestors, that is, offering new crops of the year to the ancestors before harvesting.

Chusok was not only the day of showing sincerity to the departed but the day of pleasure over bumper crop of the year. As it was the holiday in abundant autumn, the foods for Chusok were rich. The special thing was that the foods were made of new crops. The Chusok foods are various kinds of rice cakes such as stuffed rice cake, glutinous rice cake and steamed rice cake.

It was a custom in Korea to make rice cakes on holidays. So Koreans said the sound of rice-flour mill and rice cake-pounding increase the festive mood.

Especially, as for the stuffed rice cake, it is said that the people can appreciate its real taste when they take “Chusok stuffed rice cake” and “early rice stuffed rice cake” made of new crops.

Glutinous rice cake and steamed rice cake also varied according to the materials and dressing materials. The fermented pancake and chestnut dumpling are also foods for Chusok. The fermented pancake was favorite of Pyongyangites. It is made of one-night-fermented dough of glutinous rice flour or glutinous millet flour fried with malt flour.

To make chestnut dumpling, steamed glutinous rice flour is rolled into the shape of egg and then dressed with the boiled chestnut powder and honey. On Chusok, Koreans make food with fresh chestnut because chestnut is of high nutrition and good for health. Such food custom on Chusok is still handed down in Korea.