I'd carved up a couple of pumpkins quick for the kids' Halloween party on Friday; as usual, we had the party at one of the many indoor playgrounds that are so common today. I decided on a lark to bring the pumpkins with me to Andong the next day; they actually seemed to fit well the ambiance of the hanok. The jack o lantern is an old folk tradition from Ireland and other parts of Europe; they would serve to guide the kind spirits to the Halloween festivities, while scaring off the malevolent ones. I explained to the girls this is why at Halloween you dressed up and used the pumpkins, since at the party you'd never really know who was a human and who wasn't. In a country like Korea with a strong folk religion and shamanic traditions, it seems odd that such a practice didn't really take root here, but then pumpkins and squash are a fairly recent introduction to this finest of peninsulas.
The pumpkin was a huge hit, with one of the other families vowing to do the same next Halloween. I showed them several pictures from the internet of awesome carved pumpkins, so now it seems we'll be having a contest next year. I am so going to win.
The night at the hanok was pretty nice. In the morning we went to visit Dosan Seowon, the school that Toegye built (the dude on the 1000 Won bill). I was most impressed with the museum showcasing artifacts from Toegye's life: I got to see his one and only spittoon and more importantly, his broom. The youngest was acting up so I threatened to smack her bottom a couple of times with Toegye's broom, promising to buy the replica that would no doubt be offered for sale in the souvenir shops outside. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that none of the shops had a replica of this most hallowed of brooms; in fact, most of the shop owners looked at me like I had three heads when I asked them where I could find one. I mean, come on! If you're going to show me Toegye's one and only broom as a highlight of a display on artifacts from his life, why aren't there replicas for sale?? Preposterous!
Anyway, a great weekend was had by all. Time to get some work done. Listening to the latest Godspeed You! Black Emperor album makes it go faster: