Celebrating the holidays on the other side of the world
By Cassandra Cotton
Christmas in South Korea
Love it or hate it, Christmas is coming. In fact, it seems as soon as Halloween displays are dismantled, they’re being replaced with snow men and Christmas tree ornaments. Before we know it, “Silent Night” will be blasting through every loud speaker around and all the pressures of the holiday season will be on our shoulders once again. Inevitably, we will begin asking ourselves such questions as, will we find that perfect gift? Will we have time to finish the baking? How will we deal with having to be in three places at once on Christmas Day? There’s really no escaping it – Christmas is coming.
But don’t be too quick to cast aside jolly ole’ Saint Nick in order to jump into Ebenezer Scrooge’s shoes just yet. There’s something incredibly comforting about tradition. There’s no place like home for the holidays… especially when you’ve spent it on the other side of the world.
I lived in South Korea for two years and I can honestly say I only felt homesick once, and that was for Christmas. Christmas 2006 was my 23rd time celebrating the holiday, and the first time I had to spend it without my family. Since I was working abroad and couldn’t afford to come home, my Christmas was spent with new friends and new customs thousands of miles away.
Under usual circumstances, my Christmas routine typically goes something like this: pick out and decorate the tree (which MUST be real); huddle around the TV to watch the Christmas specials; participate in a last minute gift buying spree; read ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’; hang up the stockings; open just one gift; go to sleep with sugar plums dancing in my head; wake up Christmas morning to some quality family time; and enjoy a day of relaxing while eating myself into a turkey coma.
Cassandra shows her students a little Christmas spirit
My Christmas in South Korea went something like this: put up the mini, plastic Christmas tree; stress about getting last minute gifts mailed out to loved ones; huddle around the computer to Skype with family at home; wake up Christmas morning to see what gifts were received in the mail; meet up with other foreigners in a familiar part of Seoul and hope the sight of a Burger King might bring fond memories of home; eat turkey dinner with a side of kimchi.
South Korea is actually the only East Asian country to recognize Christmas as a national holiday. However, Korean Christmas’ are less elaborate and more subdued than most holiday celebrations in Canada. Usually, the holiday is celebrated with a family dinner, and the menu almost always includes popular Korean dishes such as sweet potato, rice cake soup, barbecued beef (bulgogi), and spicy pickled cabbage (kimchi).
Like anything however, Christmas away from home is what you make it. While Christmas 2006 wasn’t quite like those of my past, it was by keeping some of my family traditions alive that I was able to make the best of my holidays overseas.
While Christmas is ideally a time for family and longstanding tradition, it is inevitable that at least once in your life, you will find yourself celebrating Christmas away from home. Even though it might be difficult to find your inner holiday cheer during this time, here are few simple things to keep in mind that might help you make the best of your situation:
Get Traditional. Decide what traditions you enjoy celebrating most from year to year and make an effort to incorporate them into your holiday plans. While your holidays might not be quite as you remember them from years gone by, making the effort to incorporate some of your favourite traditions will leave you feeling a little closer to your loved ones back home.
Be with friends. If you know you’re not going to be with family this holiday season, make plans to meet up with others in a similar situation. Have an open mind, and enjoy some of their favourite traditions.
Stay connected. If you will be away from home at Christmas, stay connected to the activities taking place with your family. Send Christmas Carol video messages, or schedule times to use a web cam to watch everyone open gifts.
No matter where you’re celebrating this holiday season, know that you’re not alone. Whether you’re enjoying a typical family Christmas at home or experiencing your first Christmas abroad, there’s something to be said for both. To everyone on the Island celebrating Christmas without family this year, “Sun-tan-chuk-ha” (Merry Christmas in Korean).
Originally from Georgetown, PEI, Cassandra Cotton currently calls Ottawa, ON home. She recently launched Rock.Paper.Petals – a home décor and event design company featured in the October/November issue of G!.
Celebrating the holidays on the other side of the world By Cassandra Cotton Love it or hate it, Christmas is coming. In fact, it seems as soon as Halloween displays are dismantled, they’re being replaced with snow men and Christmas tree ornaments. Before we know it, “Silent Night” will be blasting through every loud speaker […]
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Chatting with the guys of SiFTcast
By Meredith Morrison
From left: Brian Langille, host of The Langille Show on YouTube; Kris MacDonald, CFCY’s “Island Country Breakfast” Morning Show; Dave Taylor, UPEI’s Manager of Sustainability and Energy Management; and Jason White, owner of The Tech Guru, where SIFTcast is recorded weekly. Photo by Amy Kroeker.
Sunday may the day of rest, but lately, it’s become better known as the day of SiFT.
SiFTcast – the brainchild of Kris MacDonald, Brain Langille, Jason White and Dave Taylor – is a weekly podcast recorded in downtown Charlottetown that discusses the latest news and opinions of the week in Sports, Information, Film and Technology (SIFT). The episodes, recorded every Thursday night in the Guru Studio, located in the lower level of White’s shop, The Tech Guru, are available for download, streaming and listening online the following Sunday. Or should we say, SiFTday.
Since it’s initial launch in August, SiFTcast has covered a wide range of topical items. From to the latest in online gaming to the KFC Double Down, anything goes with the SiFTcast crew.
“We keep it a conversational podcast,” says MacDonald, host of CFCY’s “Island Country Breakfast” morning show, whose background in radio has helped keep the others on point and the conversation flowing. “We try to keep our topics generalized for the world, but we definitely do not shy away from the fact that we are in Charlottetown. Some shows don’t really talk about where they are at the time or what they’re doing. They just focus on the topics of the show. We try to bring a little of our outside lives into it.”
Through what Brian Langille, host of The Langille Show on YouTube, says was “a combination of Twitter and wrestling,” the four met and quickly became friends. The idea to launch a weekly podcast, however, came a bit later.
“We play a lot of Modern Warfare online and we’ll play for hours. The conversations we have back and forth,” says Langille, “I don’t want to say that they’re ‘gold’, but they’re good. We just said a couple of times ‘this would be great for a podcast.’ We started talking about it and it seems the popular vote was yeah, let’s give it a try.”
“It’s a creative outlet,” adds MacDonald. “We just took what we were already doing and turned it into a kind of social get together, and now we save it for posterity, I guess!”
Stats show that the guys are definitely on to something. According to White, SIFTcast’s listenership has grown from 25 in August to 470 in October. That’s a pretty significant jump if you consider that at the time this article was written, only 11 episodes had been produced. And the numbers continue to grow – iTunes subscribers all over the world have been tuning in hear what four guys from Charlottetown have to say.
“We’re hoping the show continues on and people pick up on it, making it a part of their routine,” says MacDonald. “We try to keep it consistent, and I think that’s a big part of having a successful podcast. If you miss a show, miss two shows, people kind of forget about you. You disappear. I think we’ll continue to grow so long as we come out every week with something.”
While a lot of the topics covered on SiFTcast come from news sources (to quote MacDonald “we sift through the Internet like old prospectors looking for gold”), the guys also look to their fans on Twitter for ideas. For some lucky followers, tossing out a topic for discussion could win them a SiFTcast T-shirt. I’m just putting it out there, but a SIFTcast T-shirt would make an awfully nice Christmas present for someone; I’m sure the guys would agree with me on this.
As for what’s in store for 2011, the possibility of a live SiFTcast broadcast may be in the cards. “Something we’ve talked about from the beginning is doing a live portion – a live stream online,” says Langille. “People have told me that we should have a camera on during SiFTcast. But we want to make sure the quality of the show is good before we do that.”
Any plans for guest spots on the SiFTcast panel? “Once we get the Premier coming in, then we’ll see,” laughs White. “We’ll call that episode ‘Madam Speaker’.”
Listen to past episodes of SiFTcast online by visiting www.siftcast.com, or subscribe for free on iTunes. You can follow the guys on Twitter, www.twitter.com/@SIFTcast.
Chatting with the guys of SiFTcast By Meredith Morrison Sunday may the day of rest, but lately, it’s become better known as the day of SiFT. SiFTcast – the brainchild of Kris MacDonald, Brain Langille, Jason White and Dave Taylor – is a weekly podcast recorded in downtown Charlottetown that discusses the latest news and […]
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Your guide to holiday party style
By Ellen Egan
Photography by Stephen Harris
The holiday season is just like every other time of the year, except…oh wait, it’s on light speed – and dressed from head to toe in glitter and bright lights. So many events are jam packed into basically one month, and then some. From potlucks to office parties to elegant galas, there’s no better time of year to pull out all of the stops.
No matter the style of holiday party (excluding, of course, ‘ugly sweater’ and theme parties), you still need to maintain a level of sophistication while exuding a ‘festively chic’ air.
First off, forget about finding the ‘perfect party dress’ (if such a thing even exists). Develop looks that will carry you through this holiday season, one show-stopping step at a time.
For the most part, you can’t get too sexy. If it’s a business atmosphere, you must maintain a level of professional appropriateness. Just because the word ‘party’ is slapped on the end of ‘office’ doesn’t mean you can divorce yourself from the ever-faithful 4 B’s rule: No boobs, belly, back, or butt.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to look like you are in mourning either.
All you have to do is build a relatively simple outfit, such as a flattering black dress or a high-waist skirt and silk blouse, around one special item – something that’s a little too much for day, but can go the extra party-hardy mile. Whether it’s rocking a killer pair of stilettos, a knockout hairpiece, a chunky bangle, a faux-fur shrug, or an embellished blazer, you have the freedom to take some risks and to show off your personality.
Whatever you do, scratch the jewelled Christmas tree pin – please.
If you do decide to make it all about ‘the dress’, be mindful of what season we’re in. Mid-summer florals, spring pastels, and lightweight linens are simply out of the question. You’re going to be inside, but your dress still has to be worn with winter in mind. More saturated colours, figure-flattering dresses, luxurious fabrics, and less skimpiness are all traits of dresses ideal for the colder months.
And, for the record, it’s not all about the clothes and accessories. To complete the look, you’ll need to fuss with your hair more than usual. If you usually wear it straight, get out the rollers or curling iron and add some loose curls or pull it back in a sleek ponytail. Feeling really ambitious? Go for a classy up-do.
While you’re at it, take your make-up up a notch to enhance your natural beauty. If you normally opt for a fairly simple look during the day, create a smokey-eye effect or apply a flattering lipstick, such as soft pink or rich red.
For holiday party dress success, just remember this recipe: Shake one sparkling shot onto a simple mix, and you’ve got yourself a refreshing look that will surely turn heads.
G! Style on location at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown
Clothing provided by Lou Lou Clothing and Accessories in Charlottetown and Belle’s Boutique in Montague
Make Up Artist: Bethany Harris
First Assistant: Dane Woodford
Models: Lindsay McLellan and Danielle Pot
Your guide to holiday party style By Ellen Egan Photography by Stephen Harris The holiday season is just like every other time of the year, except…oh wait, it’s on light speed – and dressed from head to toe in glitter and bright lights. So many events are jam packed into basically one month, and then […]
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