Children’s Day (어린이날), May 5

Today my family is headed to the museum and I would imagine that ice cream will be consumed at some point today. Because May 5 is Children’s Day in the Republic of Korea (aka, South Korea), and our family celebrates the holiday like Korean families do–with time together doing something fun and eating our son’s favorite foods.

Of course, in South Korea the day is a national holiday so parents have the day off  from work, making it easier to spend time as a family. But in the four years since our son came home, so far my husband has been able to take the day off so we can celebrate in a traditional manner.

On Children’s Day, Korean families spend the day going to museums or zoos, eating the child’s favorite foods, and the child may receive a gift, money, or candy. Some groups and businesses will have special events for kids on the day, too, with crafts and other activities for kids.

어린이날 (Eo-rin-i-nal), or Children’s Day in English, started in the early 1920s when children’s author, Bang Jeong-hwan wrote “An Open Letter to Adults.” He called upon Korean adults to “speak to children with respect, and speak softly.” In part the letter is reported to have said:

“Children are the future of our nation. Let’s show respect for children. Children who grow up with ridicule and contempt from others will become people who disrespect others, while children who grow up with respect from others will become people who respect others in turn.”

Originally celebrated on May 1, the date of the holiday was changed to May 5 in 1946 and was declared a public holiday in 1975.

(I found the historical information about Children’s Day at both Wikipedia and http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlresources/units/Byrnes-celebrations/korea.html.)

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