Jongwoldaeborum, the 15th day of the first lunar month, holds a special place among the folk holidays celebrated by the Korean people since ancient times. This festive occasion is not only marked by cultural rituals but is also by a delectable array of traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations.

Among the festive dishes enjoyed on this special day are ogokpap, yakpap, pokssam, noodles, dried herb dishes, and ear-quickening liquor. Ogokpap, a highlight of the celebration, is a boiled rice mixed with four other cereals, including foxtail millet, sorghum, bean, and adzuki bean. This dish symbolizes a balanced diet, emphasizing the intake of various nutrients for health promotion.

Yakpap

Yakpap, known as medicinal rice, takes center stage on the First Full Moon Day in the lunar calendar. Prepared with glutinous rice, honey, chestnut, jujube, pine nuts, sesame oil, and other ingredients with medicinal properties, yakpap is highly prized for its nutritive value and health-restoring effects. The dish’s origin is debated, with some associating it with medicinal properties (yak meaning medicine in Korean) and others noting the naming convention for dishes with honey.

Historical records reveal that yakpap was served during significant occasions, such as the First Full Moon Day in the Three Kingdoms period and the Joson dynasty, as well as the first fourth day of January during the Koryo era. However, it has become a longstanding tradition to enjoy yakpap during the January holiday, making it a must-have for ceremonial feasts and a special dish for welcoming guests.

Yakpap has been referred to by various names, such as hyangpap (fragrant rice) and japgwaban (boiled rice mixed with various fruits), highlighting its unique taste and aroma. In neighboring countries, yakpap was known as koryoban and held in high regard as a rare and prized dish.

As part of the culinary heritage associated with Jongwoldaeborum, these dishes not only provide a feast for the senses but also offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Korean traditions, where food is intertwined with cultural significance and shared celebrations.

Ogokpap

Ogokpap, stands out for its preparation with a harmonious blend of five cereals, a dish affectionately referred to as ogokjappap. This culinary tradition is deeply rooted in Korea’s extensive history of cultivating a variety of grains.

Historical records, such as those from the Namgyong remains and the writings of the Three Kingdoms era, highlight the cultivation of five cereals, including rice, foxtail millet, sorghum, millet, and soybean. The specific grains considered as the “five cereals” have varied across different periods and regions. According to Rimwonsipryukji, an ancient text, rice, foxtail millet, sorghum, millet, and adzuki bean were recognized as the quintet. On the other hand, Kyuhapchongso identified glutinous rice, foxtail millet, sorghum, soybean, and adzuki bean, while Sejong Sillok listed rice, soybean, millet, barley, and barnyard millet. This diversity reflects the ever-evolving agricultural practices in different locales and eras.

The custom of preparing ogokpap dates back centuries, as documented in Tongguksesigi, a historical text that records the practice of consuming ogokpap on the First Full Moon Day, passed down through generations. This tradition was born out of the desire for communities to share the fruits of their cereal cultivation, promoting solidarity and good health. Additionally, the consumption of the five cereals embodied a collective wish for a bountiful harvest, along with the blessings of longevity, wealth, health, abundant offspring, and a peaceful death in the upcoming year.

A unique aspect of this age-old custom is the preparation of vegetable dishes alongside ogokpap, further highlighting the cultural significance of communal dining and the balance of nutrition.

In contemporary times, ogokpap has transitioned from being solely a festive dish to becoming a beloved component of everyday meals. This evolution showcases the enduring nature of cultural practices, as ogokpap continues to be a flavorful reminder of Korea’s agricultural heritage and the communal spirit that has defined this culinary tradition throughout history.

Pokssam

Pokssam is a special dish enjoyed during the First Full Moon Day festivities. It involves wrapping boiled cereals and side dishes in lettuce, cabbage, or laver. The version with laver-wrapped rice is known as pokssam, translating to “a blessed wrapped rice.” This custom of eating pokssam has been passed down through generations, reflecting people’s hopes for good luck in the upcoming year. It’s a simple yet meaningful practice that brings communities together, symbolizing a shared wish for prosperity and positive outcomes. Enjoying pokssam on the First Full Moon Day is a tasty tradition that connects people to their cultural heritage and embodies the collective spirit of optimism and goodwill.

Dried herb dishes

Dried herb dishes are a clever part of Korean cooking, featuring ingredients like dried gourd, bracken, mushroom, bellflower roots, eggplant, and radish leaves. The process involves soaking them, giving a quick boil, and then seasoning or making them into soups.

On the First Full Moon Day, enjoying these dishes isn’t just about good taste; it’s seen as a practical way to brace for the upcoming summer heat. It also reflects the wise lifestyle of the Korean people. They’d dry greens gathered in the summer, preserving vegetables to turn into side dishes when fresh ones were hard to come by.

Noodles

On the 14th of January in the lunar calendar, a day preceding the First Full Moon Day, a unique custom takes place – the consumption of noodles for lunch. This tradition stems from the desire of the people to lead a long and prosperous life, akin to the longevity associated with the elongated form of noodle strips. It reflects a simple yet symbolic practice, where the act of enjoying noodles becomes a tangible expression of a wish for longevity and well-being. This culinary tradition on the eve of the First Full Moon Day embodies the cultural significance of food as a conduit for expressing aspirations and fostering a connection with the essence of a long and fulfilling life.

Liquor

On the First Full Moon Day, a cup of cold liquor is savored, affectionately known as ear-quickening liquor. This tradition involves a heartfelt wish for sharper ears, anticipating the receipt of joyous news throughout the year. It’s not just a drink; it’s a cultural practice rooted in the belief that enjoying this liquor would enhance one’s receptiveness to positive messages.

This custom not only reflects the healthy lifestyle embraced by the Korean people, who celebrate holidays without excessive drinking, but also symbolizes a desire for well-being and good fortune. It emphasizes the importance of balance and moderation in festive celebrations.

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the most popular variant of this ear-quickening liquor is Kaesong Koryo Insam Liquor.

What’s your Reaction?
+1
0
+1
0
+1
1
+1
0
+1
0
+1
0