Early in the morning of the New Year’s Day, all the families would hold memorial services for their ancestors, make New Year greetings and enjoy holiday dishes.
It was a custom in Korea to put ttokguk (rice cake soup) on the table set for memorial services on New Year’s Day with several other dishes.
Dishes for this day include chalttok (glutinous rice cake), solgittok (steamed rice cake), jolphyon (fancy rice cake), pancakes, desserts, sujonggwa (fruit punch), sikhye (sweet rice drink), roast meats, fruits and others.
And ttokguk is a must dish for the day. So, Koreans called it chomsebyong, age-adding rice cake.
The soup was originally prepared with pheasant broth, and when the pheasant was not available, chicken broth was used instead. Hence the Korean proverb, Chicken in place of pheasant.
On New Year’s Day people drank cold liquor. Traditional liquor for New Year’s Day was Tosoju distilled from traditional Korean medicinal stuffs, including fruits of Zanthoxylum piperitum, white rhizome atractylodis, platycodon, and Siler divaricate.
When serving the liquor, young people were the first to drink to congratulate them for their becoming mature, and the elder ones drank in the end for they repented of their becoming old.
On New Year’s Day, all the family members got together at the house of the parents to enjoy holiday feast and welcomed the neighbours and other villagers with dishes.
Rice Cake Soup
Rice cake soup is a typical dish for the lunar New Year’s Day.
As the soup was a must on the day in the southern region of the country, the local people called the rice cake of soup chomsebyong, age-adding cake, and enquired about other’s age euphemistically by asking “how many rice cake soups did you have?”
Pheasant stock is perfect for preparing rice cake soup, but chicken stock is also used.
Rice cake soups have distinguishing features by region.
In Kaesong the whole family sat together on New Year’s Eve and spent the night making bar rice cake into cocoon-shaped ones with bamboo knives. And they cooked them on the morning of the lunar New Year’s Day.
The cocoon-shaped rice cake was called jorangttok, as it looked like two beads stuck each other.
Every household in the Kaesong area was said to have bamboo knives for each member.
There is a story about jorangttok and bamboo knife.
Kaesong was the capital of Koryo, and there lived a king with very sensitive tongue.
He even disliked the metallic taste of the rice cake cut with the kitchen knife, so he ordered to use a wooden knife. Rice cakes cut with the wooden knife looked not so good in shape, but tasted good.
It was widely spread among ordinary households, thus creating a custom of cutting rice cake with wooden knives in the Kaesong area.