Christmas - Korea stylee

Christmas in Busan. I think it started in mid November. I noticed some decorations in a bakery and gradually they spread to the coffee shops and then by the end of November, a lot of places were sporting tinsel and snow flakes in the windows. There was definitely a slight festive feeling in the city, but putting up Christmas lights in Busan is as pointless as airbrushing Cheryl Cole's face. She's already caked in make-up so what's the point? Basically what I mean is that although there were places with lots of Christmas lights up, the city is always so full of bright neon signs that it didn't really make much difference.

There was no nervous tension in the air at the shopping centres in the days leading up to this weekend. Even though there were lights, decorations and Christmas music, I got the feeling that nobody really cared. I suppose it's more of a trend than a tradition here and so gift giving is minimal and people don't really celebrate it much. It is a national holiday here but, annoyingly, if a national holiday falls on a weekend it doesn't get carried over to the Monday. So basically we had a normal weekend for Christmas. Today is Boxing Day and I am at school. We didn't have any assemblies or nativity plays or even decorations at school. Well, apart from in my classroom. 

I asked my students if there were any Korean Christmas traditions and after lots of umming and aahhing it seemed there was only really one - ice cream cake. This is apparently the special food that Korean families eat at Christmas. Or possibly a cheesecake if you want to be a bit different. Christmas dinner (if there is one) will probably be a family meal at a steak restaurant, or something similar. And yes Santa visits but only small children. 

So, in light of all of this I decided to take it upon myself to make Dave and I a Christmas this year. I had very limited resources but luckily I'd had the foresight to request some supplies from home in advance and so I formulated a plan and the festivities unfolded as follows:

Friday 23rd: We did the final food shopping and spent the night watching Christmas films in bed.

Saturday 24th: Christmas dinner with Dave and 2 friends - Gen and Pete. I borrowed an oven from school and Gen prepared the appetisers, while Dave and I worked on the main meal and dessert. The menu was as follows:

Cheesy dip and crudités
Cheese ball and crackers
Salsa and tortilla chips

Roast chickens with sage and onion stuffing
Pigs in blankets
Roast potatoes, carrots, peppers and onions
Garlic mash
Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Orange and Cranberry stuffing
Christmassy cabbage

Chocolate bread and butter pudding
Rum sauce

The chicken - stuffed and buttered. Yes Mum,
not only did I 
touch it but I stuffed it too!
Note the neck...oh Korea!
Gen's amazing cheese ball...we ate 2!
I wish I could have kept the oven. 
It felt so good to do some real cooking for once!
The leftover chicken!
Our Christmas Dinner - 
please note the Tabasco wasn't mine! 
No chopsticks today!
Christmas table settings - 
we made place mats for each other!
My Christmas window display
All in all I think it was a big success and I would like to say a special thanks to Dave for peeling all of the veggies and to Pete for making the mash!

While the food was cooking we watched Groundhog Day and played a drinking game - you have to drink every time someone says "groundhog", every time you see the groundhog and every time a new day starts. We quickly ran out of beer!

After dinner Dave and I were far too stuffed to socialise so we stayed in and I opened one of my Christmas parcels from home. It was full of chocolate and tea and a lovely pair of earrings!

Christmas presents!!!!
Sunday 25th: We woke up and opened our presents from each other and my second parcel from home. SO MUCH CHOCOLATE! We then went to a friend's house for Christmas breakfast (egg, cheese and bacon bagels!) and drank eggnog and bucks fizz. Yum! After that we all headed to another friend's flat and ate more food and played games and then did a gift exchange. It was kind of like a secret Santa but you were allowed to steal gifts from other people. I walked away with a lovely "HD Porridge Flask" and Dave got a box of booze!

After far too much eating, drinking and general funtivities we headed to our respective homes and skyped our families. The highlight of my Christmas was watching my favourite 7 people opening the presents I sent home for them. Some had been bought way back in August and I had been looking forward this for months! 

Monday 26th: Unfortunately we have to work today but as soon as the bell rings at 4:30pm I am going to rush home to eat leftovers and watch Die Hard because it's Dave's favourite Christmas film and he can't believe I haven't seen it.

And so, to summarise, while I have had a lovely weekend with friends and food, I am counting the days until next Christmas, when I will be with family and will get to eat my favourite food of the year - PARMESAN PARSNIPS!