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어버이 날: How to Celebrate Parents’ Day in South Korea

How much do you express gratitude to your parents? Usually, people seldom express how thankful they are to their parents. That’s why there’s a day in South Korea for exactly this. It’s Parents’ Day, or 어버이 날 (Eobeoi Nal). Eobeoi means “parents,” both mother and father.

Parents’ Day largely reflects South Korea’s culture, particularly the concept of filial piety so prevalent here (though it is weakening). Thus, taking the time to learn about it will greatly increase your working knowledge of Korean culture. This, in turn, will improve your language skills and give you a greater respect for the country of your target language.

At KoreanClass101.com, we hope to make your learning experience both fun and insightful as you discover all about Korean Parents’ Day!

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1. What is National Parents’ Day in Korea?

At its core, National Parents’ Day is meant to a time to both celebrate and show respect for one’s parents. It’s also a day of gratitude of thanksgiving for all that one’s parents have done for them—parents do make a lot of sacrifices that we sometimes take for granted, don’t they?

Do you remember which national holiday is held on May 5th? It’s Children’s Day, right? Children’s Day and Parents’ Day both take place in May, so this month is called “the Month of Family.”

2. When is it?

Parents' Day is on May 8

In Korea, Parents’ Day is celebrated each year on May 8.

3. Reading Practice: How is it Celebrated?

Children Showing Affection to Mother

On Parents Day, Koreans seek to honor their parents. So how do they do this? How is Parents’ Day celebrated in South Korea? Read the Korean text below to find out, and find the English translation directly below it.

어버이날 하면 한국에서는 ‘카네이션’을 가장 먼저 떠올립니다.

한국에서는 5월 8일이 다가오면 학생들이 미술 시간에 색종이로 빨간 카네이션을 만드는데요. 아이들은 어버이날이 되기 전 직접 만든 카네이션 모형을 감사편지와 함께 준비합니다.

그리고 어버이날이 되면 이 카네이션을 부모님 가슴에 달아드리고 감사편지를 전달해드린다고 하네요.

어른이 되면 어렸을 때보다 부모님과 함께하는 시간이 적어지기 마련입니다. 그래서 어버이날이 되면 부모님을 찾아뵙고 함께 식사를 하는데요. 오랜만에 부모님과 식사를 하고 평소 부모님께서 갖고 싶었던 선물이나 상품권을 드리며 감사의 마음을 전하곤 합니다.

한국에서는 어버이날을 위한 특별한 노래가 있습니다. 초중고등학교에서는 어버이날이 되면 어머니와 아버지를 초청해서 어버이날 기념식을 여는데요. 이때에는 학생들이 다 함께 모여서 부모님께 ‘어버이날 노래’를 불러드립니다. 어버이날 노래 가사 중에는 ‘하늘 아래 그 무엇이 넓다 하리오. 어머님의 희생은 가이없어라’라는 내용이 있는데요. 하늘만큼 넓은 것이 바로 부모님의 사랑이라는 의미입니다.

In South Korea, usually the first thing that comes to mind about Parents’ Day is carnation flowers.

As May 8th approaches in South Korea, students make red carnations in art class. Before Parents’ Day, kids usually write a letter of thanks to go with the carnations they made.

And, on the day, they put the carnations on their parents’ chests and give them a letter of gratitude.

It’s natural to spend less time with your parents as you’re getting older. That’s why people visit their parents and have a meal with them on Parents’ Day. Usually, they have dinner with their parents, who they haven’t had a meal with for a long time, give them a gift or the gift certificates they wanted, and express their thanks.

There’s a special song for Parents’ Day in South Korea. In elementary, middle, and high schools, they invite their parents and hold a Parents’ Day Ceremony. During this event, the students gather together and sing the Parents’ Day song to their parents. One of the lyrics is “What else can be called as big under the sky. Mother’s sacrifices are endless.” It means that parents’ love is as big as the sky.

4. Additional Information: Origins

Do you know what country first started Parents’ Day?

The Korean Parents’ Day has roots in Mothers’ Day from the United States. In the U.S, it started out as a lady giving white carnations to people in remembrance of her mother. Later, when it came to South Korea, it changed to the day when people give red carnations to both parents as a Parents’ Day gift and show their gratitude to both mother and father.

5. Must-know Vocab

Reading a letter

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Parents’ Day in Korea!

  • 편지 (pyeonji) — “letter”
  • 가족 (gajok) — “family”
  • 어버이 날 (Eobeoi nal) — “Parents’ Day”
  • 아이 (ai) — “child”
  • 카네이션 (kaneisyeon) — “carnation”
  • 효도여행 (hyodoyeohaeng) — “tour for parents”
  • 공경 (gonggyeong) — “respect”
  • 어버이날 선물 (eobeoinal seonmul) — “Parents’ Day gift”
  • 부모님 (bumonim) — “parent”
  • 5월 8일 (owol paril) — “May 8th”
  • 호의 (houi) — “favor”
  • 어르신 (eoreusin) — “elderly”
  • 효자 (hyoja) — “devoted son”
  • 효녀 (hyonyeo) — “devoted daughter”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Korean Parents’ Day vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

What do you think of Korea’s celebration of Parents’ Day? Does your country have a similar holiday? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about Korean culture and the language, visit us at KoreanClass101.com. Here, you’ll find all the study tools you need to master Korean, from free vocabulary lists to insightful blog posts on an array of topics. You can also use our online forum to discuss lessons with fellow students, or even upgrade to a Premium Plus account and take advantage of our MyTeacher program to learn Korean one-on-one with your own personal teacher!

You’ve put a lot of effort into learning Korean, and you’ll be so glad you did once you begin the reaping the seeds you sowed! You’ll be speaking Korean like a native before you know it, and KoreanClass101.com will be here with you for every step of your journey there.

Be sure to wish your parents a Happy Parents’ Day in Korean and start brainstorming Parents’ Day gift ideas! Best wishes.

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