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Korean Sweets, Popular Holiday Treats and Gifts

Traditional Korean confectioneries, hangwa, are ornate and common dishes around the holidays.

During the major holidays, Koreans show their gratitude to others by presenting small gifts.  It’s been a long tradition to most Koreans and is a way of showing appreciation toward each other.  Some of the best gifts during Korean holidays are food products.

Usually food items are prepared and packaged from the regions where they are produced and well known.  For instance, Hoengseong (Kangwon Province in Korea) is famous for Korean beef.  Most of the preferred meats are sectioned and specially packaged.  Fruits, fish and other fresh products are prepared in the same way to be on the market for the season. These perishable products needed to be preordered for fresh delivery. Despite limited availability for some fresh products, many Koreans purchase them to enhance the season.

The assortments vary from health food products to seasonings.  A health food item like Korean Ginseng is expensive but favored by older recipients.  Korean confectionery gift boxes are favored because of their traditional values and beautiful looks.  These items are widely liked because of their long shelf life, and people rarely buy them for themselves.

Speaking of Korean confectionery, it once was a substitute for fruits during ritual ceremonies in cold seasons.   The primary intension of making confectionery started from devotion to children.  Parents wanted to make the ceremonial table as plentiful as possible and couldn’t leave out any symbolic items.   It was the Goryo Dynasty when the confectioneries were popularized and presented at lot of events.   During the Shilla Dynasty, the government had to put a restraint on making Korean confectionery.  An increase in tea consumption helped create an explosion in confectionery consumption in upper class Koreans.  It became a luxurious snack.  Usage of honey, oil and grains skyrocketed, which increased the price of those commodities.  The government limited certain number of confectionery dishes at events to stabilize the market.  

Korean confectioneries are divided into two main groups of Gangjeong and Yakgwa.  Ingredients for both are malt or honey, oil, grains and powders from various organic plants. Other ingredients could be added to enhance the flavor and the health appeal.  Yougwa and Sanjah are also in the confectionary family.

These confectioneries require tremendous effort and special techniques. Colors, shapes and ingredients are filled with sincerity and symbols.  This makes Korean confectionery presentable at the special events and to your friends. 

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