Hansik-day Memorial Service(寒食節祀)
Hansik jeolsa (Kor. 한식절사, Chin. 寒食節祀) is the memorial service held during the Hansik (Kor. 한식, Chin. 寒食, lit. Cold Food Day) visit to ancestral tombs. It is also called Hansik jesa (Kor. 한식제사, Chin. 寒食祭祀), Hansik charye (Kor. 한식차례, Chin. 寒食茶禮) or Hansik seongmyo (Kor. 한식성묘, Chin. 寒食省墓). The term jeolsa (Kor. 절사, Chin. 節祀, 節祠) is used for memorial services held on major holidays such as New Year’s Day, Hansik, Dano and Chuseok, and refers to both the memorial services at the gravesite and at home.
Holding a memorial service at an ancestral tomb on Hansik is believed to be a custom originating from Tang China (618-907). In Korea, Hansik became a major holiday during the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392). In the royal court, government officials were given a three-day rest and a memorial service was celebrated in the royal ancestral shrine and in the Gyeongnyeongjeon Hall. Execution of criminals on Hansik day was prohibited. During the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), the holiday was similarly celebrated with memorial services held at the royal ancestral shrine and a grave site. Commoners also paid visits to ancestral tombs with sacrificial food, wine, and fruits.
Hansik and Chuseok, the two most widely-observed holidays, owe their popularity in part to the fact that they mark, respectively, the beginning and the end of a season. Hansik, as the gateway of spring, was a proper time for refurbishing tombs and replanting grass on it. Thus people in modern Korea still maintain the custom of visiting their ancestral tombs on this day annually.