Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving, Korean style - "Han-ga-wi"

Like as many other agrarian culture, Koreans celebrates the new harvest. Hangawi, Korean Thanksgiving -AKA Chuseok - is on Aug 15th by Korean lunar calendar. This is few days in Korea that pople make massive exodus to their hometown. This year I went back to Korea, and cook with my mother for the table of ancestry ceremony called 'Cha-rye'.

Chuseok is the day we remember the dead. Cha-rye is a big feast for ancestors. This is the opening of the holiday. It calls for some unusual way of cooking and display of the food. For instance, red colored food is located on east while the white is located on the west. Few very ceremonial foods such as dried whole cod also appear. Steamed rice on the table is made out of new grain to celebrate the season. As my grandmother used to do it, my mother prepared extra bowl of rice for those one who have no one to remember them.

After the ceremony at home, we also visit the grave of ancestors. Christians usually attend service instead of Charye or after the Charye. I went to mass with my mother.

The best known food of Hangawi is Songpyeon; a crescent-shaped rice dumpling stuffed with toasted sesame or sweetened beans and steamed on the pine needles. Gotgam -a dried persimmon- and Sikhye - a sweet fermented rice and ginger drink - is also special treat for this season.

Sikhye & Songpyeon cooked and photographed by Namoole,

During the evening, people gather nearby hill tops to greet the full moon and make a wish upon it. I did it with my friend this year back in Korea. Full bright moon lights up the town with such a joy was really good thing to see, in deed!

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