A big thing that most foreign teachers fear is missing out on all their favorite Western holidays. Especially the idea of living in Asia and knowing that most of the East’s holidays are not aligned with the West’s. In Korea, the major holidays are Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving) and Solnal (Korean New Years). If you live in the countryside, Koreans don’t really celebrate big Western holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you live in big cities however like Seoul, Busan or Daegu then there will be Koreans who celebrate Western holidays and who enjoy partaking in them.
The cool thing about Korea is there is a large foreign community living here. There is such a diverse group of people in every city and town from all over the world, who share the same love for Western holidays as you do! Every year I have enjoyed all my holidays more than I should have. And no matter where I was, I always felt like I was with my family: ‘my Korean family.’
Halloween in Korea:
Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays in Korea. There are plenty of Americans here, who go out of their way to keep the spirit of Halloween alive. Every year, I have partook in Halloween festivities, somewhere, whether it was in a small bar in Cheonan, or in the large, loud district of Hongdae. Foreigners and Koreans alike go all-out in the foreign districts and if you work at Chungdahm, your academy will encourage you to dress up and hand out candy during Halloween week and Halloween day. You can buy Halloween costumes at any Homeplus or Daiso. Plus, over the years that I have been living in Korea, Halloween has become a much bigger party than it used to be and there are more Korean’s who seem to be partaking in it as well.
Thanksgiving in Korea:
As a South African, I had never celebrated the all-American Thanksgiving before. However, my American friends have made me fall in love with this holiday while living in Korea. What’s better than stuffing your face with good food and booze and then eating as much pumpkin pie and apple pie to your heart’s content? My friends hold Thanksgiving every year at someone’s house where we bring a potluck of goodies. Costco is always on the list of places to visit beforehand so we can enjoy real pumpkin pie and whipped cream that taste like home.
Christmas in Korea:
Christmas is a time when all foreign teachers feel homesick and are frozen from head to toe from the pumping Siberian wind that spreads icicles all over Korea. It is a time when your friends become your family, and tears are shed over homemade egg-nog and Secret Santa gifts. Every Christmas has been very special. The years it has snowed on Christmas day we built snowmen and threw snowballs, other years we enjoyed one another’s company by having one friend dress up as Santa. Generally, everyone will prepare some delicious meal and set it up together at someone’s apartment. There has never been a Christmas spent in Korea where I didn’t receive presents or eat good food. If you live in Seoul, plenty of foreign restaurants prepare Christmas lunches and events. Also, most cities in Korea will be decorated during Christmas time and play those typical Christmas jingles that will make you sick of them.
So no matter how much you will miss your family during these holidays, it is guaranteed that you will enjoy the festivities in a unique way, by bonding and sharing these moments with very special friends who will forever be dear to your heart.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!