Korean Mid-Autumn Festival

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: early 50s
Occupation: Housewife
Residence: South Korea
Date of Performance/Collection: April 17
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Main Piece:

This is a summary of mid-autumn festival in Korea that I talked to my mom about.

Mid-Autumn festival is August 15th on the lunar calendar and falls around mid-September to October. It is called “Chu-seok” and is kind of like Korean thanksgiving in that it is a seasonal holiday that celebrates harvest. The whole family gathers around and make “songpyeon” together, which is a half-moon shaped rice-cake with filling inside. The shape and filling vary from household and region. Some put in mashed beans or chesnuts but a more popular filling for children is combination of sesame seed and sugar.

My mom says she grew up eating the sesame seed and sugar songpyeon and had the mashed beans filling for the first time when she married my dad. The rest of the food eaten at chu-seok is similar to those eaten during lunar new year—meats, savoury pancakes.

Background:

I knew about Korean mid-autumn festival from participating in them when I was younger but didn’t know the exact details of the celebration and thought I would ask my mom to see if she had any insights about the tradition.

Context:

This was collected in an interview with my mom in a casual setting.  I thought it would be an interesting collection for this project because different countries celebrate Mid-Autumn festival differently.

Thoughts:

I don’t think mid-autumn festival was very big in my family. We had songpyeon but that was about it. I’m not sure if there are any activities that we do like sebae in New Year (refer to this post on Korean Lunar New Year for more information about this activity). I think traditionally, there were activities, but they haven’t really been kept today. Instead, I think Chuseok is about spending time with family and celebrating the year’s harvest.