What Should You Try During Chuseok!

Minjun Son

Are you excited for the upcoming holidays? Chuseok(추석), also called as Hangawi(한가위) is a Korean traditional Thanksgivings day, celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar on the full moon. This year, the holiday starts on September 30th until October 2nd and luckily thanks to the weekend, we get extra 2 days! Chuseok, literally meaning ‘Autumn Evening’, is one of the biggest and important holidays in Korea. Traditionally, family members from near and far gathered together to celebrate the harvest and abundance and shared foods and stories. As it is the most abundant season of the year, people celebrated by preparing special foods and gave thanks to their ancestors for the good harvest. Therefore, there are some foods that you should try to eat in order to celebrate Chuseok like native Koreans!

First and most of all, don’t forget to miss this chewy and fragrant rice cake! ‘Songpyeon’(송편) is the name! It is one of the typical foods that Koreans make and eat on Chuseok. Songpyeon is a type of rice cake usually half-moon shaped and made using freshly harvested rice. It is filled with various fillings depending on your region or taste such as sugar, honey, walnuts, red beans or even anything you want. As there is an old saying that “What looks good tastes good.”, Songpyeon is dyed with various natural colorants like yellow, green or even pink these days. With friends and family, or alone, eat some delicious Songpyeon under the full moon and make your wishes!

Next, Jeon(전) which is Korean traditional pancakes. Jeon can easily be seen on Korean holidays as it is fairly easy to make and can be made with any ingredients. The interesting thing about Jeon is that the ingredients used completely changes the taste! The most typical and popular one’s are Pa-Jeon made with green onions and Kimchi-Jeon made with Kimchi obviously. If you like seafood, you’d better put some in when making pa-Jeon as it will give you the perfect harmony! If you are not a good cook or don’t have time to make some? Don’t worry, you can easily find some in any big marts or local traditional markets! No plans this holiday? I recommend you to visit Gwangjang Market(광장시장) in Jongro(종로) where you can find endless shops waiting for you to go and eat! But don’t forget to always wear masks and keep social distance!

Now, how about getting some desserts? Well, if you tried those I’ve mentioned above, your stomach must be so full and greasy. Sikhye(식혜) is your remedy! I know it is hard to pronounce but after trying some, you are going to love this drink. It is a traditional Korean beverage usually ‘without’ alcohol but sweet and healthy. It is made with fermented, but not long enough to become alcoholic, rice and malt. This one here is not easy to make but interestingly Korean grandmas usually have their own recipe and make great Sikhye! You can easily find Sikhye anywhere including the convenient store or even vending machines. If you want to taste the genuine, however, traditional market like Gwangjang Market, like I mentioned above, is the place!

To wrap up, getting to know Korean traditions will lead to more understanding of Korean cultures. There are so many foods to eat on Chuseok like Songpyeon, Jeon or Sikhye. Well, if you plan to go somewhere far, don’t miss some fantastic foods at the service areas on the highway. You’ll be able to find the famous ‘Soddeok-soddeok’(소떡소떡) or local foods that may be even better than some restaurants. However, overdone is worse than undone! Try to eat in moderation or you might have to spend your precious holidays at the hospital. Always take care and enjoy the holidays mates!

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