September 5, 2014
This weekend is our Chuseok (Choosuk) holiday in Korea. For important holidays in Korea the lunar calendar is still used so Chuseok falls on a different day every year, but it is always the 15th day of the 8th lunar month and the day of the full harvest moon (considered the brightest full moon of the year). This year Chuseok falls on September 8th (Monday), but it is a three day holiday – the days preceding and following Chuseok are also holidays in Korea – so we are out of school on Monday and Tuesday.
Traditionally, during Chuseok people travel back to their ancestral homes and pay respect to their ancestors by cleaning their graves and preparing a food offering with the new harvest. A lot of people still do this but many also take the opportunity to go on vacation.
Today at school we celebrated Chuseok with the kindergarteners. It was pretty adorable. They all wore their hanboks (traditional Korean clothes) to school! All of the girls looked like little princesses and all of the boys looked like little genies.
We had several Chuseok activities lined up this morning but first class photos had to be taken:
Then we made songpyeon. Songpyeon is the food symbol of Chuseok. It’s a rice cake shaped like a half moon stuffed with a sweet filling. They are traditionally made by the family the night before Chuseok. They can be different colors and have many different fillings – red bean and sesame seeds seem to be the most popular.
So I tried my hand at making songpyeon. According to old lore if you make pretty songpyeon you’ll have pretty daughters… I don’t think mine were ugly, but they weren’t really pretty either.
Next we went upstairs to the auditorium and joined the other kindergarten classes. There they learned how to properly bow and then we played some traditional Korean games – Yut Nori and Jegichagi. Jegichagi is like hackey sack. The jegi is the object you kick and the goal is not to let it touch the ground. Yut is a traditional board game that is also played during Seollal (Lunar New Year). There is a board and 4 yut sticks. Throwing the yut sticks determines how you advance on the board. For each yut stick that lands flat side up, you can advance one place. I believe the object is to make it around the board and end up where you began.
If you are interested in trying to make songpyeon at home I found an excellent blog with easy to follow instructions. Her songpyeon are much prettier than mine!