Friday, November 11, 2005

Remember Veterans, Remember Pepero

So November 11 is a holiday here - sort of.

It's "Pepero Day." Or "Bepero Day." (P and B are very close friends around here.) We foreign teachers remain unsure of exactly how to say it, is it PEP-per-row (like the start of pepperoni?) or Beh-PAIR-oh? Because we all had kids in our classes saying it both ways. Then again, there isn't really syllable stress in Korean as we know it in English.

At any rate, what happens on Pepero Day is that you get lots and lots of pepero, which are these little cookie wafer sticks dipped in chocolate and packaged and sold by the gazillion so that you can give them to friends and family and loved ones on November 11. Like Valentine's candy, perhaps, those little hearts with random messages.

Many of my students brought me pepero! We were all drowning in it! I have more than I could eat in six November 11ths! The Canadian married couple teachers had bulging backpacks of it, too, and she's diabetic and doesn't eat it, so he gets it all, and no way can he eat all that.

We're told that this pepero occasion falls on 11/11 because all those 1s in the date look like the sticks, you see. Or, the sticks look like the 1s. Or something.

Meanwhile, the Canadians were asking, "Are we going to celebrate Remembrance Day or what?" I gathered that that was their version of U.S. Veterans Day. Then we had a little North American cultural exchange talking about the differences in the ways our two countries celebrate the holiday. They are all very big on the moment of silence at 11:11 a.m., so much so that one even had his Korean pre-schoolers observe the moment. I had to be honest and tell them a lot of people kind of blow off Veterans Day in the U.S.: they'll notice their mail isn't getting delivered but are more likely to "observe" a holiday if it's a three-day weekend. I tried to represent us well, but come on: that's kind of true, isn't it? What did *you* do to commemorate the day? I did say the President (or in this case, the "President") might lay a wreath at Arlington, and there are parades and such. I think the Canadians do a little bit better with this one, folks. Sorry. Canada 1, U.S. 0

Apart from armistice, we've been talking about things, the Canadians and I, this week. I loved how one put it: "The great thing about living in Canada is you are totally invited to the party (U.S.) and get to enjoy everything, but then late at night when the party gets all messed up, you don't have to stay." A fantastic analogy!

I went to Costco with the Canadian marrieds on Friday after work. The prior English teacher in their apartment, whom they replaced this summer, bequeathed them her Costco card. I bought yogurt, soup, frozen hash browns, a big ol' jug of salsa (well, Pace picante sauce) and some tortillas. Hurrah! On the way home, we had a very nice cab driver. They handed him some of their pepero when they got out of the cab. It was like the most natural thing in the world.

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