Sending All the Love to Parents on this Special Day

by Larissa Tsui

Mother’s Day is approaching and it’s time to spoil your mothers more than usual on this special day! Mother’s Day is a special day where all the mother figures in your lives are celebrated and recognised. This day takes many forms, from family to family and country to country. And, that’s no less for us compared to Korea. So, how is Mother’s Day celebrated in Korea? 


Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday of May each year for us. But Mother’s Day in Korea is a bit different in the sense that you wouldn’t even find many families celebrating Mother’s Day. Instead, the day has now been replaced to Parents’ Day. Parents’ Day in Korean is 어버이날 (eobeoinal). ‘어’ (eo) meaning mother,  ‘어머니’ (eomeoni), ‘버 (beo) meaning father, ‘아버지’ (abeoji) and 날 (nal) translating to day. So, rather than having separate special days for mothers and fathers, Korea has one day where both parents are celebrated 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 This special day is meant to honour and show respect for parents, grandparents, in-laws or any parental figures. A day for children to express their thanks for all they’ve done and sacrificed for them ❤️‍🔥

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Although Parents’ Day is not a national holiday like Children’s Day, it is definitely not a day that is ignored. Instead, it is widely acknowledged and celebrated by Koreans. Children who are in school will write a letter and attach red carnations to give to their parents. Starting as soon as kindergarten, before Parents’ Day, teachers will teach children to make postcards and letters to show their gratitude and appreciation while handcrafting carnations 💌  Carnations are the symbol of Parents’ Day as this flower symbolises admiration, affection, and appreciation in Korea. You’ll even find carnations on the streets around this special day! Many schools also hold a Parents’ Day Ceremony. Parents are invited to this ceremony and children will sing special songs dedicated to parents to celebrate Parents’ Day. Some also hold a special “feet-washing” ceremony where students will prepare a basin of water to wash their parent's feet as a sign of gratitude. 


Adults, despite their busy lives, will take time out to spend the day with their parents on this day. Whether it is making a hearty, warm meal for their parents, or taking them out to a nice restaurant, having a nice meal together is a defining cultural aspect of Koreans. But, since you don’t get a day off on this day, most adults would visit their parents in the weekends. Some of the most common Parents’ Day gifts adults give are gift certificates, medical check-ups, vacations, house appliances, or cash. In recent years, another popular gift is a basket or bouquet of carnations along with cash in it! 💐💵 Events are arranged by social organisations too to visit and have activities for elderlies in nursing homes. Parents’ Day ceremonies are held in temples or cultural organisations to honour the elderly people in that particular region as well.


Parents’ Day is a day to recognize the tremendous hard work and sacrifices of parenting. It dedicates love to parents and their children by showing our appreciation and gratitude for them 💗 Don’t forget to express all the love and affection you have for your mothers (and fathers too!) this coming Mother’s Day. Maybe you can try writing a heartfelt letter this Mother's Day. Here’s some commonly used phrases Koreans say on Parents’ Day to get you inspired that I think are so precious: 

낳아주시고, 키워주셔서 고맙습니다. 사랑해요! (Thank you for giving birth to me and raising me. I love you!)

오래오래 함께 해주세요. 사랑합니다. (I hope you stay healthy and live long. I love you.)

세상에서 가장 소중한 부모님이 계셔서 정말 감사합니다. 항상 건강하세요. 사랑합니다. (I’m so grateful for having the most precious parents in the world. Always be healthy. I love you.

쑥스러운 마음에 자주 표현하진 못하지만 감사하고, 사랑합니다. (I didn’t express it enough because I’m shy, but thank you and I love you.)

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