Wow. I have really let this thing slip. Apologies.
I'm going to do my best this week to update so much of what has gone on lately.
Most notably of these will be my recent trip to Shanghai & Hong Kong (with a splash of Macau).
For now, though, I just want to provide a bit of interesting information. The last few weeks here have been jam-packed with interesting and unique Korean Holidays. I figured I'd give you a heads up on them.
May 5 - Children's Day
This was the first of my days off from school (allowing me to take that mini-vacation). Children's Day (어린이날) started here almost 100 years ago and is annually celebrated to honor the children's importance in movements and culture. Honestly, it's probably just a relief for them not to have to get hounded by their parents for getting A- on tests. Plus, they get money to play computer games with - "good, teacher, good!"
Here's a picture of Seoul's Children's Grand Park - a huge expanse for little kiddies, featuring a zoo, amusement park, soccer fields, and several playgrounds. I spent yesterday there playing some football with friends.
May 8 - Parents' Day
Koreans got efficient. They combined Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day into one holiday - celebrating both parental units. On this day, always on a Sunday, sons & daughters meet with their parents and go out to lunch. The offspring traditionally offer a gift to their parents. Guess what the most common gift is? Money. Straight cash. "For their retirement," they say. Interesting. I wonder what my cash-strapped students did?
May 10 - Buddha's Birthday
I think this is an All-Asian holiday (celebrating across the Oriental part of the continent) because I know it was celebrated in Hong Kong (where I was), China (where I had been) and Korea (where I live). I was flying for most of the day so I didn't ge ta chance to celebrate but I understand many temples put on a show and festival to honor the old religious figure. For good measure, here's a picture of the world's largest sitting buddha in Hong Kong which I saw the day before his birthday - and of which I will put my own pictures up in my Hong Kong post.
May 15 - Teacher's Appreciation Day
Not sure why they chose to have this on a Sunday. Most schools celebrated on Friday, however. Our school had a one-hour ceremony planned which turned in to 3 hours. All the teachers got carnations. Many students brought in gifts of rice cakes, flowers and assorted candies. I ate cake and ice cream all day long - it felt exactly like Lindsey's birthday parties, only with 20 Asian women and many teenagers coming up to me to say, "Happy Holiday Day Teacher Eric". So, yeah, I guess a bit different. Anyway, it is still Sunday now, so I may go out to get lunch and tell them I am a teacher here, see if I can pry some free goodies.