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It seems like the only thing I have been celebrating are the numerous New Years. The Hmong New Year, the Solar New Year, and now the Lunar New Year.
For those of you who don't know: Yes, Hmong people celebrate their own New Year, there's no designated date. It's usually held between October through December, depending on the clan or head family member. It is universally recognized as "Hmong New Year" in English or "Lwn Qaib Noj Peb Cauj" in Hmong (literally, "The Thirty-First" or "Swinging Chicken" or "Eat-the-swinging-chicken-on-the-31st" [I made that up]. Click on the link to get the full scoop on the Swinging-Chicken event from Ze Moua.)
The Principal of my school asked me when the New Year in Laos was held, I assumed he meant the Hmong people, so I told him in November. He, along with the Vice Principal and other teachers, quickly spoke in Korean puzzled. Honestly, I was too, but it's what II'm familiar with. I would have done a quick Google-search for him, but with no wi-fi or 3G available for my convenience. I wasn't confused by the date or from ignorance, it was because I haven't learned the Korean words for "harvest season".
I was able to attend the Minnesota Hmong New Year held at the River Centre and wear my traditional Hmong clothes.
[With my cousin, Padra Lee, at the 2011 MN River Center Hmong New Year.]
At the time, I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't attend the Hmong New Year held at the Metrodome, until I saw this:
[December 2010, Metrodome ceiling collapsed due to heavy snow.]
And then this occurred:
[General Vang Pao passed away on January 6, 2011, from pneumonia.]
I spent the Solar New Year with my college friend family. Her name is Shin, and I met her in class on accident. I had been practicing my Korean during class, she noticed the Hangul I wrote and told me I spelled, "teacher" wrong. We've been friends since. Her parents and sister drove early in the morning to pick me up from my town and we spent the day together. I ate a lot! They had asked me where I wanted to go, I had no idea. So we took a trip to E-Mart and stocked my pantry. Every now and then, Shin's Mom and I will text each other in complete Korean. I don't know how I do it or what I'm saying or how I'm saying it, but it's helping a lot with my Korean language ability. We have a good laugh when she calls, because I am definitely worse at speaking.
[Shin Hyong and I on my 21st birthday in Minneapolis.]
Lunar New Year, also known as "Seol or Gujeong"(click to read askakorean's point of view) in Korea is a three-day national holiday, which it also falls right before the weekend this year, so it's a 5-day weekend for (almost) everyone or a 9-day vacation if people request Monday and Tuesday off and leave the weekend before to paradise. Bus drivers, sales associates, movie theater workers, coffee baristas, and non-government workers are most likely working. Lunar New Year is equivalent to Christmas time in the states. Seriously. I haven't been in such panic or worry about what to do with the holidays since 2009's Christmas. Christmas in Korea is equivalent to Valentine's day, it sucks.
I have been in "worry-mode" since the weekend, because I don't know what to do with myself over the next 5-day holiday break. I've learned the term, 심심 (shim-shim), from everyone asking in Korean if I'll be bored or lonely during Seol. Yes, I will be 심심, however I am determined to not stay home. Because I'm gaining weight from sitting around my laptop and cooking random dishes. I need a new hobby. (I stepped on the scale and it said I've gained 10kg. That's fucking 20-pounds! 3 weeks of winter camp, 1 week of sickness, and 3 weeks of carpooling can make a 5-foot tall girl gain 20-pounds. Unbelievable!) My worries have gone down since the weekend. I'm living day-by-day. I have a list of things to do and see in Seoul. I don't expect to be spending a lot of money, since a lot of the things I will do are free, except for meals.
(In Jeonju, during a hanok stay in February 2009 with the CIEE Program.)
새해복 많이 받으세요! Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab! Happy New Year, Everyone!
*Update: Turns out the scale in my apartment was broke by 10kgs, so I didn't gain any weight. ^^