Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday was Lunar New Year's Day. This is a major holiday all over East Asia...and especially Korea. It's one of the 2 major traditional holidays celebrated (along with the harvest festival/Thanksgiving aka chusok) Korea has a few random holiday's such as Childrens' Day and Christmas along with 2 get rid of Japan days...but Sunday is one of those holidays that stretch back into Korea's roots.
It's also kind of unique here in that the entire county. including yours truly, aged one year. Which is strange as my mother could have sworn that was 29 and my friends all think I act like I'm 14. But here in Korea, I'm 31.
As part of their culture, Koreans choose to have all their birthdays on the same day. It's something that permeates all of their culture. All of my first graders are 8 years old. If you are 9, then you are in second grade etc...and that's that.
It's even more confusing when you factor in the way they start counting age. The Chinese didn't have a symbol zero until the 13th century...so children always started their age at 1. (before you mock them for not having zero...please look at your own calender attempt to the 0 AD...still can't find it? The west has known about it longer than Korea has...what's our excuse for having a huge hole in our calender?)
If you are addressing someone that is older than you...the language you using is called "honorific" Case in point, when my students talk with older students...they use "older brother" and "older sister" to refer their elders. If fact, it's hard for students to have friends in different grades. When the person always has to use respectful, honorific, and deferential language...and the older gets to be more casual...it creates an imbalance which is difficult to overcome.
In honor of this Korean holiday, my pseudo birthday, and a long weekend...I decided to take my Korean friend/ex-coworker up on her offer to spend the weekend with her family in Busan.