Chusok Part I: Presents for everyone!

This may be a 2 or 3 part series - not sure yet, but the first part will be an explanation of Chusok - the Korean version of Thanksgiving and the events I've partaken in so far...

Tuesday, Septemeber 25th is this year's Chusok. It's basically a Harvest Festival celebrating Korean ancestors that supposedly goes by the lunar calendar. I've seen where it is supposed to be in August, however I guess it has been in September most years. I assume its counterpart for scheduling would be our Easter, but it is more traditionally related to our Thanksgiving. Chusok starts the night before and ends the night after, so most Koreans will take 3 days off of work which means that as an English Teacher we also get 3 children free days and no obligation to celebrate the way they do. What do most of us do? Well a few guys went to Thailand, another that went to Taiwan, another to Japan, some choose to just stick around here and do day trips, and some have their relatives come visit (there are a few moms roaming around the streets of Suji and its quite cute). Myself? I'm going to take a 3 day trip to Gyeongu, a city about 4 hours away on the South Eastern coast of Korea to visit Buddhist Temples, and see old traditional Korea, with four others. Should be pretty exciting.

However, before the actual holiday, Chusok is a much talked about event and there is much excitement leading up to it in a school. Starting this past Thursday the moms started bringing in tons of presents. Here's an example of some of what I got:

I received a big box of bath stuff (seen above closed & open) from a mom who bought it at an extremely nice body shop. Other moms brought in food for all of the teachers. Then on Friday it was stuff galore... I received a gigantic box of various teas, gourmet brownies individually wrapped in bows, a really nice passport holder, a Lotte Mart gift certificate from our boss, juices, cookies, and just various cakes and whatnot were around the office. Some of the other teachers received various forms of gifts as well - one girl received socks, and another received high end procured meats. Very random, but very very good & extremely generous. Also, all of the kids dressed up in their various Hanboks (traditional Korean clothing) not too unlike the Kimono. Check out how friggin cute my kids are!

They come in dressed up and we spent the morning making Songpyon - VERY tasty rice cakes that look like little dumplings, filled with sugar, cinnamon, & sesame seeds, & black soy beans if you wish (which I didn't). We ate them for the kids' snack time and then they brought home whatever extras they had. I of course had no idea what I was doing, so I spent my time taking pictures of the kids:

Overall it was a pretty enjoyable day - and getting presents is always a fun thing. My presents to all of my kids? Mostly classtime spent playing games (educational ones of course - scrabble, hangman, guess who) and no homework. Hey, that'd make me happy - and its the gift that keeps on giving b/c that means I don't have to grade anything when we get bacK!