Every year at this time of the month, many of us plan a special day for our mothers, whether it is preparing flowers, writing cards or planning a meal. That being said, Mother’s Day isn’t the same around the world, including in South Korea. Korea’s way of celebrating parents is somewhat different from America’s way.
1. Korea combines Mother’s and Father’s Day
Unlike America, South Korea dedicates one day to both parents instead of having two separate days to celebrate each parent. Often, parents of Korean families that live in America follow the American way because they benefit more in terms of gifts.
2. The date of the celebration
Mother’s Day falls on May’s second Sunday, while Father’s Day on June’s third Sunday. However, Korea established a set date for Parents’ Day. Coincidentally, both Mother’s Day and Parents’ Day falls on the same day this year, May 8. Unfortunately, Korea doesn’t consider the day a national holiday.
3. Popular gifts
Mother’s Day is the biggest day of flowers, greeting cards and long-distance telephone calls. However, carnations have become the symbol for this particular day, and Korea is one of the countries that picked up the rather commercial tradition. They became the official Mother’s Day flowers when Ann Jarvis, the founder of the holiday, sent 500 white carnations to a West Virginia church for mothers in 1907. White carnations were her mother’s favorite, so she wanted to remember all her hard work and efforts as a mother.
In Korea, red carnations mean everlasting health and respect. Children in Korea usually make fake carnations out of paper and pin it on both parents’ left side of their chest. When placed, it holds a lot of meaning for the mother and father because it not only reminds them of their children’s love for them but also the suffering they went through as parents. In recent surveys, parents in Korea did chose money as the #1 most appreciated gift; this year, give your own parents allowance into their right pockets and a red carnation above their left side of their chest.
4. Korea’s official Parents’ Day song, A Mother’s Grace
Korea has their own song that children usually sing on Parents’ Day to express their appreciation. The direct translation goes as the following:
“People say the sky is the highest of the highest, but
I know there is something higher
The grace of my mother who gave birth to me and raised me
Is higher than any blue sky
People say the ocean is the widest of the widest, but
I think there is something wider
The grace of my mother telling me to be a rightful person
Is wider than any blue ocean”
There are only a few things that make up the difference between America’s Mother’s Day and Korea’s Parents’ Day. Even with the small distinctions are rather trivial in the bigger message of the whole day. Although an individual should appreciate and cherish their parents every day, it is always fulfilling to have one day to devote all our attentions to those that we love.
By Eunice Kim