Woo! Two holidays in one!

First of all, the holiday you’re all probably familiar with: Valentine’s Day (밸런타인데이 – literally ‘Valentine’s Day’). They do celebrate Valentine’s Day here in South Korea – and in fact some of my students asked me if I would be giving them chocolate in celebration… Oops. I actually would have given them chocolate and maybe even made them little cards but… it did not occur to me… But the last week of term is coming up so I might be buying mygood classes pizza. You read that right: my GOOD classes. The students in my 4pm Thursday Bridge Listening class said that on week 13 we’ll have a pizza party (as if it was mandatory, which it’s not); they are not getting pizza, but that’s another story.

To get back to Valentine’s Day, the holiday works a little differently here than in the US. On Valentine’s Day, girls give guys chocolates, present, etc. On March 14th, Koreans (as well as the Japanese and Taiwanese) celebrate White Day (화 이 트 데 이 – literally pronounced ‘white day’), when its the guys turn to give girls chocolates, presents, etc. White Day was started in Japan as an ‘answer day’ to Valentine’s Day, with men expected to give nicer gifts to the girls who gave them chocolate on Valentine’s Day.

Holiday number two, in our holiday double-feature, is Lunar New Year (음력설날 – eum-nyeok seol-lal). Lunar New Year is supposed to be one of the big holidays in Korea, lasting three days, and people spend it visiting their families. On Friday my students asked me if I would be going home to the United States. Nope, kiddos. Teacher doesn’t have that kind of time or money (even though Friday was also Pay Day). Instead I spent the first day of Lunar New Year having out with the Training Gang in Seoul because two of us were celebrating birthdays this week. Here’s  are the two main things we did that day:

  1. First thing, we visited Bau House, a dog cafe, and got delicious chocolate milk shakes. Now you’re probably wondering, what’s a dog cafe? No, it is not where people eat dogs (although they do eat dog soup here). It is where people dine with dogs. Yes. Dogs. Once you get used to the smell, it’s delightful. Basically the owners’ dogs run around the tables/on the tables/under the tables and chill out with you. People can also board their dogs there for the day. And foreign English teachers can visit when they miss their dogs and want something to cuddle with.

AAR LAND-LUBBER, I be Captain Jack. If ye gots issue with the Bau House, ye be takin' it up with Captain Jack.

Most. Chill. Dog. Ever.

  1. After getting dinner and chilling out for a while, we went salsa dancing. Except it turn out it was line dancing. Except that turned out to be swing dancing. But there was dancing. The problem was… we didn’t really know how to swing dance. Some of us did, but for the most part we were all rookies. But it was still a lot of fun. And I got a bunch of free oranges from the place.

(Eventually a video of sweet, sweet swing dancing will go here, but I have to figure out how to get the video into a blog appropriate format first…)

Although Saturday was fun, I am a little bummed that the stuff I had been looking into doing (going to Jeju island for the Fire Festival or actually doing something festive for Lunar New Year) didn’t pan out… I was really interested in going to see the Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul, which is supposed to put on traditional performances for the holiday but I couldn’t convince the others to go. Unfortunately the performances are only the 14th and 15th, but cultural activities continue until the 16th.

Tomorrow I plan to either go to the Namsangol Hanok Village and check it out or go to the Korean Folk Village outside of Suwon. Either way, I’m doing something traditional tomorrow!

Oh I almost forgot, Mr. Yun who runs the Suwon Yeongtong (where I worked) and Hwaseong Dongtan (where I was supposed to work) branches of Chung Dahm Learning bought all the teachers gift sets for Lunar New Year. A lot of the teachers were hoping that inside the boxes would be food but there was no food to be found. Instead, there was soap, toothpaste and shampoo (… what is Mr. Yun trying to tell us?). I was actually happy about that and since one of the other teachers didn’t need to supplies and gave me his gift set, I now have eight 180g bottles of shampoo, six bars of soap (avocado, tea tree oil and rose soap) and 12 tubes of toothpaste (various mint flavors). Which basically means I won’t have to go shopping for those things for a really long time. 감 사 합 니 다, Mr. Yun!

Here's the outside of the box (that is now gracing my wall as a decoration)!

Behold! Glorious hygiene products!