|Chuseok Holiday Food, SongPyeon
(Rice Cake Steamed on a Layer of Pine Needles)
Korean make Songpyeon (Rice cake steamed on a layer of pine needles) every thanksgiving day which is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Korean used to say, if you make pretty Songpyeon, you will meet pretty or handsome partner in the future. This diction made all the young men and women to make Songpyeon on Chuseok holiday with all their heart.
The origin of Songpyeon
No one knows exact origin of Songpyeon. However, it is known that people started to make Songpyeon in Koryo period. Korean also made Songpyeon on the 15th of the New Year according to the lunar calendar and distributed to servants. That was another way of requesting devotion to their servant for coming year. Songpyeon also used on baby¡¯s first birthday. People hoped that the child becomes intelligent and full of knowledge in their head, just like Songpyeon is full of stuffing. This custom is still delivered in present time.
The kinds of Songpyeon
Songpyeon is divided into several categories depending on its stuffing. There are red bean, sesame, beans, Chinese dates, chest nuts and many more. Songpyeon made with the first harvested rice was used in a worship service for family ancestors on Chuseok morning. The shape of Songpyeon also varies in each different regions. There are shellfish shaped Songpyeon in Seoul, Mandu shaped in Gangwon and HwangHae Provinces. Also the sizes is smaller in Seoul area and rather tough and thick in Hwanghae, Gyeongsang and Gangwon areas.
Steamed Songpyeon on a Layer of Pine Needles
Steaming Songpyeon on a layer of pine needles is another traditional custom. First, spread pine needles on rice steamer and put one layer of Songpyeon on it. And spread again pine needles and other layer of Songpyeon on the top of it and repeat same procedure. The flavor of pine needles helps to enjoy the taste of Songpyeon.
Steaming with pine needles was scientifically proved as a good cooking method. All the plant produce various chemical substances to protect from outer side, this is called phytoncide. Pine trees produce this chemical ten times stronger than any other trees. That is why pine tree also symbolizes the purification which expels all the bad lucks.
Phytoncide from pine tree is used as pain killer, extermination of insects, antibiosis, control of blood pressure and tranquilizer. It is easy to guess the wisdom of Korean, just by looking at Songpyeon with a layer of pine needles.