From old days the Korean people celebrated the day to commemorate the bumper harvest and to honour their ancestors.
That day people offered to their ancestors foods prepared with early rice and other grains such as mung bean, adzuki bean and soy bean.
And on the eve of the holiday, they prepared holiday dishes, typically rice cakes made of newly harvested crops, soups, wine and sweets.
They made a variety of rice cakes including glutinuous rice cake, and the one most associated with the holiday is songphyon, half-moon-shaped rice cake stuffed with beans and cooked on a layer of pine needles.
Nochi (fermented glutinous rice pancake) is peculiar to the Pyongyang area, the rice cake made with fresh persimmon to the Kangwon provincial area, oat cake to the Hamgyong provincial area, and the glutinous rice cake with mellowed persimmon to the Jolla provincial area.
Every family prepared various soups with meat, fish, beancurd and dried edible herbs, and taro soup was much favoured in Kaesong and Jolla Province.
Songphyon, special dish for chusok
From olden times the Koreans regarded songphyon as a rice cake symbolic of chusok, the 15th day of the eighth month by the lunar calendar.
Songphyon is named so because it is steamed on a bed of pine needles.
The size of the rice cake and making methods varied a little according to regions.
Generally, songphyon and other cereal cakes for chusok holiday were made of polished and glutinous rice, but in Hamgyong and Ryanggang provinces, where rice does not grow well, oats were widely used in making cakes.
The oat cakes rubbed with oil were so slippery that there was a saying in Samsu and Kapsan areas, “The oiled oat cakes slipped out of the chopsticks and flew over the Huchi Pass.”
Songphyon was also prepared as a special dish on other holidays.