Ask any child in Korea what the date June 25 signifies and they may give you a blank stare. But any mention of May 5 will be met with smiles and excitement.
Because May 5 is Children’s Day, a national holiday reserved for the celebration of children and the youth and innocence they embody.
The Korean Children’s Day was created by the children’s writer and storyteller Bang Jung Hwan in 1923 as a way to instill a sense of independence and national pride in children. Bang had noticed the low status that the Korean culture — based on Confucian ideals of placing value on age and maturity — placed on children and so wrote an “An Open Letter to Adults,” which stated:
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.
Children’s Day highlights the dignity of children and their need for love, care, and respect. It is also a day to honor adults that have contributed to improving the lives of children.
Being a national holiday, all schools and most offices are closed on Children’s Day. Parents are encouraged to go out with their kids in order to fully celebrate the holiday, whether it be via amusement parks or the numerous festivals that are held on this special occasion.
And you can’t forget the presents. I remember that growing up in Korea, we children probably received more presents for Children’s Day than for Christmas.
I always wondered why the United States doesn’t have an official Children’s Day; after all, many other countries in the world celebrate their youth with a national holiday.
My family hasn’t celebrated Children’s Day since we moved to the states. However, I fully plan on celebrating this Korean holiday with my kids. If mothers, fathers, veterans, and even dead Presidents get a day dedicated to them, I feel that children should too.