As this Saturday, October 3rd marks the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar in Korea, it is time to celebrate the harvest thanksgiving holiday of 추석(Chuseok)! Generally this holiday is a big deal in the country, similar to American Thanksgiving-although minus the turkey, for sure- and is marked with time off from work and school, the wearing of traditional clothes called hanbok, and of course feasting on a LOT of food. Today at Reading Town we had a 추석 event day. All the teachers and students dressed up, played traditional games like chaegi chogi, paegi, and twaygeecheegi which are similar to their western counterparts of hackey sack, tops, and paper footballs, respectively. It was a lot of fun seeing the kids all dressed up, not to mention seeing their reactions to my own costume. They loved it! Each class spent the first morning period in their own rooms, making a traditional rice cake called 송편 (song-pyeon) which is filled with sesame and honey and steamed on a bed of pine needles. I tried one and was thoroughly disgusted, but the kids loved them and kept wanting to make more! The kids were very tired out by the end of the day, as was I, but unfortunately I still had to stay until 5:30, whereas they did not….just as Marisa and I were slipping out the door at the stroke of the bell, our director stopped us to give us a large box each-our 추석 present from her. When we arrived home we sat down to open the boxes. I was gifted with a set of 3 hams-really, HAMS! One a tenderloin, one a cassoule (?), and one bbq (this is the translation from the Korean on the label). The gift box also included a bottle of sweet chili sauce and a bottle of “pickle mustard”, whatever that may be. Marisa’s gift box contained canola oil, sesame oil, an indistinguishable bottle of some other kind of oil, some salt, and two packages of Spam. Happy Chuseok to us! On another gifty-food note, Peter’s mom also bought me a huge HUGE box of kim (dried, salted seaweed, usually eaten wrapped around rice, or as I prefer, rice and kimchi) as a Chuseok gift. I now have a lifetime supply of the stuff. Are you jealous? Because you should be.
And now the good stuff: adorable Korean children in costume. And me. But I’m cute too.
Tomorrow I’m off for a fancy birthday/Chuseok weekend in Seoul. Tres, tres excited!