Songpyeon (Korean pronunciation: [sʰoŋpʰjʌn]) is a traditional Korean food made of glutinous rice. It is a type of tteok, consisting of small rice cakes traditionally eaten during the Korean autumn harvest festival, Chuseok. They have become a popular symbol of traditional Korean culture. Songpyeon are half-moon-shaped rice cakes that contain different kinds of sweet or semi-sweet fillings, such as sesame seeds and honey, sweet red bean paste, and chestnut paste steamed over a layer of pine needles, which gives them the fragrant smell of fresh pine trees. They were made into various shapes with the participation of family members and were often exchanged between neighbors. Songpyeon is a type of rice cake made by kneading ride powder with hot water and stuffing the dough with beans, sesame, chestnuts and other fillings. Songpyeon can be made into many different colors using different time of rice powder and dough. The different colors can create many unique flavors. Songpyeon is one of the main dishes that are made and served during Korean Thanksgiving. They are bought on the Korean market streets or stores that serve food. Songpyeon is also one of the most made homemade Korean dishes during this holiday. Many families will buy supplies and make their own songpyeon. Songpyeon is given to family members and neighbors that are known. Giving a neighbor or songpyeon will be seen as respecting them. Homemade Songpyeon is tried to be made as pretty as possible because Koreans have a strong belief that if you can create a pretty songpyeon, you will have a beautiful daughter. Songpyeon is also known as half-moon shaped rice cakes. Many Korean families say that Chuseok would not be complete without half-moon shaped rice cakes. Other ingredients that can be added to songpyeon are soybeans, cowpeas, chestnuts, bean powder, jujubes, sesame or honey. Songpyeon’s name created because songpyeon’s were steamed over pine needles that gave them that distinctive taste and then later created name. Many families over the past years have created their own home-made recipes of songpyeon. Each home made songpyeon having different amounts and ingredients create different colors, textures and flavors. Songpyeon was used for many ancestral celebrations. Songpyeon and other food were used to show appreciation for the year’s harvest. Koreans also hoped and prayed to help them avoid misfortune. Songpyeon is mainly a Thanksgiving meal, but some Korean families like to eat them during the spring also. There are many stories about why songpyeon is in the shape of a half moon. Most believe it is in the shape of the half-moon because Korean ancestors thought the full moon can only wane and a crescent shape/half-moon would fill up.
The earliest records of songpyeon date from the Goryeo period.
Song means pine tree, and pyon means steamed rice cake. The tteok is used in ancestral rites and celebration.