Sije (Kor. 시제, Chin. 時祭, lit. ceremony at [designated] time) is the generic name for memorial services honoring fifth generation and beyond ancestors. These services are held at ancestral tombs on Hansik (Kor. 한식, Chin. 寒食, Cold Food Day, about April fifth on the Gregorian calendar) or during the tenth lunar month. Sije and other names, including sisa (Kor. 시사, Chin, 時祀) and sihyang (Kor. 시향, Chin. 時享), contain the character meaning “time, ” a reference to the fact that these rites are observed regularly. Other terms such as myosa (Kor. 묘사, Chin. 墓祀, lit. graveyard memorial service), myojeon jesa (Kor. 묘전제사, Chin. 墓前祭祀, lit. memorial service in front of the grave), seilje (Kor. 세일제, Chin. 歲一祭, lit. annual memorial ceremony), or seilsa (Kor. 세일사, Chin. 歲一祀, lit. annual memorial service) are also used for these rites. In order to distinguish sije from the rites worshiping fourth generation and younger ancestors, the latter are referred to as sasanje (Kor. 사산제, Chin. 私山祭).
Korean ancestral memorial ceremonies are heavily influenced by Chinese customs, especially with the introduction of the “Zhuzi Jiali” (Kor. 주자가례, Chin. 朱子家禮, The Family Rituals of Zhu Zi, 12th century) during the Goryo period (918-1392). In Korea, rites at the ancestral tombs were more important than in China. Rituals were performed four times a year on Seol (Kor. 설, Lunar New Year), Hansik, Dano (Kor. 단오, Chin. 端午, Festival of the Fifth of the Fifth Month), and Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕, Harvest Festival) or Dongji (Kor. 동지, Chin. 冬至, Winter Solstice) for the closest four generations of ancestors, and once a year during the tenth lunar month for ancestors of the fifth generation and beyond. With time, the graveside rites started to disappear, and currently only an annual rite for the fifth and greater generations of ancestors is termed sije. The proceedings of this annual ritual follow the guidelines set forth in the “Zhuzi Jiali.”