One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” –Henry Miller

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Children’s Day!

Korea has made it a national holiday! Every 5th of May is dedicated to the youth, the infants, the adolescents, the juveniles, the babes, the little tykes, the squirts, the youngsters, the whippersnappers, the kiddies, or to those who are just plan childish.

Parents give their children a gift and school is OUT!  So what did this mean for me besides a reason to act more like a kid?? …School was OUT!

A few of us spent our day of jubilance at the park near the river.  We rented bikes in the morning and then ate lunch in the park that afternoon. Daejeon, like a few cities in Europe (such as Paris), has a bike rental service as part of a “green initiative.”  There are stations scattered around the city.  You simply type in your cell phone number and your registration number and, Viola!, you have yourself a bike, fully equipped with bell and basket.  The first hour is free and each proceeding half hour is only 500 won (50 cents). Deal!
Joey on one of the rented city bikes we used. 

After a leisurely morning ride we ate ourselves into a food coma on hot dogs, deviled eggs, sweet potatoes, and sliced apples.  But man, what a way to go!

The girls

Much of the day was spent like this =) 

It was an absolutely perfect day.  We were fortunate to have clear blue skies and temperatures that touched into the 70s.  Parents and children wore their spring clothes and smiles for a day of bliss. The parks were full of kids on bikes, kids with painted faces, kids flying kites and helium balloons.  

Adults, too, were spotted on bikes, on roller blades, playing ball games.  So that led me to wonder... is a child's happiness  so infectious that it brings out our own?  Do we need a day devoted to childish behavior to tear us from our habitually desensitized adult behavior?   

 I told my mom that Children's Day was one holiday that needed to come back to the States (I'm keeping a running list) My mom replied, "What makes you think that every day isn't children's day?"  That statement might hold water in the U.S., but Korea is another matter.  

First, gift giving holidays like birthdays and Christmas are on a much smaller scale. Kids might receive a gift or two.  The Christian population is fairly large in Korea, but Christmas is not commercialized as it is in the west.  It's a holiday that's celebrated quietly amongst couples and families.  As for birthdays, they are more heavily celebrated together on the lunar new year when everyone becomes a year older together. 

Second, kids work infinitely harder in school.  I've almost given up asking my students how they are at the start of class because the majority of their responses are, "Teacher, so tired!", "I'm fine", or "I'm bad!"  A few might say, "I'm good."  Even as elementary schoolers they go to private institutions after school to study and then home to study *more* until 11, 12, and 1 o'clock at night. Korea's test scores might reflect that kind of diligence ... at a price.  

Here's to the day that allows those aspiring doctors, lawyers, and CEOs to be just...children. 

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