Thanksgiving wasn't really Thanksgiving to us in Korea. First of all, Korean Thanksgiving is in October, so we heard nothing of our Thanksgiving here. We also had to work Thursday and Friday. We asked our boss if we could leave two hours early on Thursday after we were finished teaching all of our classes so we could go celebrate over dinner. He said we could go. Turkey is a rare find in Korea. We also don't have an oven to cook a chicken as a turkey substitute. An additional wrench in our Thanksgiving plan was that getting out two hours early meant we were getting off at 6:30, too late to make an elaborate meal. So, we went to Outback Steakhouse for steaks.
"Do you mean Veterans Day?"
On Thanksgiving I gave my kids a few questions about Thanksgiving; if they answered correctly they would get three stickers, which, is pretty much like offering $100 bills in exchange for a few words. The answers I got were pretty funny.
"Today is a holiday in America. What holiday is it?"
"Happy Birthday. Christmas. New Year. Valentines day. White day. White people day. Pepero Day." And I actually had a student say, "Teacher! Teacher! It is Bang Bang, Auuggghhh. Dead day!" as he stood up, acted out shooting a gun, then getting shot, then falling to the ground.
"Do you mean Veterans Day?"
"We eat many different kids of food on Thanksgiving. Name two."
"Turkey and sushi! Turkey and rice! Turkey and Kimchi! Turkey and noodles! Turkey and water! Turkey and rice! Turkey and milk! Turkey and juice! Turkey and sushi no? Turkey and pig! Turkey and dog! Turkey and ice cream! Turkey and sushi! Turkey and apples..."
It took about ten minutes and several hints later until they finally guessed potatoes.
"Thanksgiving falls on the same day of the week every year. What day is it?"
"Monday! Tuesday! Monday! Saturday! Sunday! Monday! Monday no? Friday! Tuesday! Monday!"
"It falls on the same day every year. Today is Thanksgiving. What day is it?"
"Monday! Monday no? Friday!"
Andrew and I have taken several day trips to Seoul the last few weekends for Christmas shopping. It was kind of fun to see the some-what-half-assed Christmas things start to pop up here and there. Pepero day (which I wrote about earlier) is the kick off of the Korean Christmas season (November 11!). But, since over half of the population in Korea are Buddhist, Christmas in Korea is not really a big deal. I've heard that it has only recently been around because of the abundant amount of foreign teachers.
A few stores have Christmas lights up, even more so lately. Our school has put up a Christmas tree (which they let Lainy and I set up and decorate, which was really fun!) Andrew and I also purchased a little two foot Christmas tree for our apartment. The weekend after Christmas we spent Saturday night listening to Christmas songs, sipping hot apple cider, and decorating our tree. We had fun playing around with my new camera while decorating the tree, too. (I will post the pictures as soon as I figure out this glitch!) In an attempt to make our tree taller, we picked up a box and put the tree on a box. We used t-shirts as a tree skirt. It's going to be a pretty ghetto Christmas for us in Korea!
Since decorating our tree, we have spent several nights wrapping presents for our families and each other. We are starting to get packages trickle in with Christmas gifts for us, and we no longer have much space under our teeny tree. In fact, since our apartment is so small, we can barely open our closet doors because of the presents under the tree!
We are also organizing a Secret Santa at work. Since Christmas isn't a big deal here, we have to work on Christmas Eve (until 8:30!). We will exchange the presents on Christmas Eve with our co-workers. We are making every attempt to make this Christmas away from home feel like Christmas!