Pine Needle Rice Cakes(松餠)

Pine Needle Rice Cakes

Headword

송편 ( 松餠 , Songpyeon )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Autumn > 8th Lunar month > Seasonal Holidays

Writer YoonSookja(尹淑子)

Songpyeon (Kor. 송편, Chin. 松餠, pine needle rice cake) is prepared by making rice flour dough with hot water, forming it into a crescent shape, and stuffing it with fillings such as cooked soybeans, sesame seeds or crushed chestnuts. The rice cakes are then placed inside an earthenware steamer over a bed of pine needles and steamed. Songpyeon is also known as songbyeong (Kor. 송병, Chin. 松餠) or songyeopbyeong (Kor. 송엽병, Chin. 松葉餠). The custom of making these cakes is widespread and is commonly associated with Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕, Harvest Festival, the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month). Songpyeon for Chuseok are cooked using newly-harvested rice and also can be called oryeo songpyeon (Kor. 오려송편), in reference to olbyeo (Kor. 올벼, lit. early-harvested rice). In a gesture of gratitude to ancestors, these cakes commonly constitute one of the dishes for the charye (Kor. 차례, Chin. 茶禮, offering ceremony for ancestors), observed on Chuseok Day, and are also offered at ancestral tombs.

Songpyeon dough can contain different flavorings. Aromatic ingredients and fillings that are stuffed into these cakes also vary. For example, hemp-leaf songpyeon is made from dough mixed with crushed hemp leaves, and songi songpyeon (Kor. 송이송편) is mixed with the innermost layer of pine bark. Dried acorn, arrowroot, and pumpkin powders are also used in songpyeon dough. Kkot songpyeon (Kor. 꽃송편, lit. flower songpyeon) have flower petals placed on the surface of the cakes in order to make them look colorful and visually attractive. Maehwa songpyeon (Kor. 매화송편) are cakes that are fashioned into floral shapes, such as the shape of a plum flower.

Proverbs suggest that a maiden who is good at shaping songpyeon will find a good husband, while a pregnant woman who has the same talent will give birth to a beautiful daughter. As a result, women and girls in traditional Korea spent long evenings before Chuseok doing their best to make nicely-shaped songpyeon. Once the songpyeon were steamed and served, pregnant women would taste them in order to predict whether the child they were carrying was going to be a boy or a girl. If a woman happened to pick an undercooked cake, it meant that she would have a girl. Accordingly, selecting a well-cooked cake indicated that the baby would be a boy. Another way of predicting the sex of the newborn was by putting a pine needle inside the songpyeon before steaming it. The pregnant woman would then take a bite of the cooked cake; if her bite was from the part where the head of the needle was, it indicated that the baby was a girl. If the first bite was at the pointed part of a needle, the baby was thought to be a boy.

Pine Needle Rice Cakes

Pine Needle Rice Cakes
Headword

송편 ( 松餠 , Songpyeon )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Autumn > 8th Lunar month > Seasonal Holidays

Writer YoonSookja(尹淑子)

Songpyeon (Kor. 송편, Chin. 松餠, pine needle rice cake) is prepared by making rice flour dough with hot water, forming it into a crescent shape, and stuffing it with fillings such as cooked soybeans, sesame seeds or crushed chestnuts. The rice cakes are then placed inside an earthenware steamer over a bed of pine needles and steamed. Songpyeon is also known as songbyeong (Kor. 송병, Chin. 松餠) or songyeopbyeong (Kor. 송엽병, Chin. 松葉餠). The custom of making these cakes is widespread and is commonly associated with Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕, Harvest Festival, the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month). Songpyeon for Chuseok are cooked using newly-harvested rice and also can be called oryeo songpyeon (Kor. 오려송편), in reference to olbyeo (Kor. 올벼, lit. early-harvested rice). In a gesture of gratitude to ancestors, these cakes commonly constitute one of the dishes for the charye (Kor. 차례, Chin. 茶禮, offering ceremony for ancestors), observed on Chuseok Day, and are also offered at ancestral tombs.

Songpyeon dough can contain different flavorings. Aromatic ingredients and fillings that are stuffed into these cakes also vary. For example, hemp-leaf songpyeon is made from dough mixed with crushed hemp leaves, and songi songpyeon (Kor. 송이송편) is mixed with the innermost layer of pine bark. Dried acorn, arrowroot, and pumpkin powders are also used in songpyeon dough. Kkot songpyeon (Kor. 꽃송편, lit. flower songpyeon) have flower petals placed on the surface of the cakes in order to make them look colorful and visually attractive. Maehwa songpyeon (Kor. 매화송편) are cakes that are fashioned into floral shapes, such as the shape of a plum flower.

Proverbs suggest that a maiden who is good at shaping songpyeon will find a good husband, while a pregnant woman who has the same talent will give birth to a beautiful daughter. As a result, women and girls in traditional Korea spent long evenings before Chuseok doing their best to make nicely-shaped songpyeon. Once the songpyeon were steamed and served, pregnant women would taste them in order to predict whether the child they were carrying was going to be a boy or a girl. If a woman happened to pick an undercooked cake, it meant that she would have a girl. Accordingly, selecting a well-cooked cake indicated that the baby would be a boy. Another way of predicting the sex of the newborn was by putting a pine needle inside the songpyeon before steaming it. The pregnant woman would then take a bite of the cooked cake; if her bite was from the part where the head of the needle was, it indicated that the baby was a girl. If the first bite was at the pointed part of a needle, the baby was thought to be a boy.