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Coming of Age Day between the world

   
 
  ▲ Belarusian people are celebrating their "Youth Day"  
 
The Coming of Age Day is a day when young people officially join the rest of society. The day and date when this occurs is different from country to country. In some countries this occurs on your 20th birthday but others vary. Also some countries make the Coming of Age Day and celebrate this day as a national holiday or anniversary.
For example, in Japan, there is a ‘Seijin no hi’ which is held on the second Monday in January to celebrate new adults. Usually Japanese women wear traditional clothes called ‘Furisode’ which is a kind of Kimono with zori sandals and men wear hakama but nowadays many Japanese men wear suits and ties.

Also in Korea, the Coming of Age Day is held on the third Monday in May. In Korea women wear Korean bridal crowns called ‘Jokduri’ with traditional clothes and men wear gat in Korean full-dress attire. Celebrating the Coming of Age Day in Korea with traditional clothes is rare however. Instead of following the traditional way young Koreans enjoy the day as a dating day with their boyfriends and girlfriends. Usually boyfriends and seniors give perfume; roses and especially boyfriend get a kiss.
 

It is an interesting fact that many western countries do not celebrate a Coming of Age Day as a national holiday or anniversary. In western countries young adults usually gain the right to smoke, drink, and vote when they turn 20 but the age varies from country to country and even province to province, and state to state. Koreans also gain these rights when they turn 20 but Korea also has a Coming of Age Day to celebrate this.

Here are some interviews from Americans, Belarusians, and German girls whose ages are from 16 to19.

First interviewee is Paxton who lives in the United States.

Q1. I heard that the Coming of Age law is different from state to state in the USA. When is the Coming of Age in your state? And is there a Coming of Age Day like Korea or Japan has?

A. In the US, there is no specific Coming of Age Day; however, on a person’s 18th birthday, they are considered to be an adult. So, you could say that the Coming of Age Day in America is your 18th birthday.

Q2. Korea and Japanese wear traditional clothes on the Coming of Age Day. Are there traditional clothes in the US for Coming of Age Day?

A, In the U.S., there are no special clothes for the Coming of Age. I do think Koreans and Japanese traditional clothes are beautiful and special, and I would like to wear them if we had them.  It can help to create memories and make the coming of age more special.

Q3. I heard that in the USA you have a sweet sixteen party which celebrates girls or boys who have their 16th birthday. Do you think that this is similar? Could you explain what sweet sixteen is?

A. Aside from your 18th birthday, graduation from high school can also represent the coming of age.  Also, on your 18th birthday, you are eligible to vote and smoke cigarettes. So maybe the 18th birthday is similar. And I think sweet sixteen is more of an expression. It is exciting day but not Coming of Age Day. Also not everyone does special things for sweet sixteen. It usually seems just like a birthday,

Q4. We usually give perfume, and roses as gifts. What do you think about this? And what gifts are common in the USA?

A. I think this sounds traditional and a little romantic. But I would rather have money because it is useful. In America, on these days, we are usually given money from family and friends. It also is common to receive flowers or a rose, just like in Korea

Q5. Many Koreans stay with their boyfriends or girlfriends on the Coming of Age Day. What do you think about this?

A. I think staying with boyfriends isn’t meaningful. This should be a family day. I mean, you may have many days to spend with your boyfriend.

Second interviewer is Lena who lives in Belarus.

Q1. Does Belarus have a Coming of Age Day like in Korea or Japan?

A. No, we don’t

Q2. Does Belarus have a similar day to a Coming of Age Day?

A. 3. In Belarus we have a celebration called “Youth Day” or something like this (I can’t translate it as it is a Russian name : День молодежи). The youth day is a celebration for all young people (from 16 to (around) 30) and this Day is held on the last Sunday in June. We started to celebrate this day since Feb 7th 1958(when Belarus was a part of USSR). So it is not a traditional celebration. On this day (in our city we have concerts, lots of contests like art contests, song contests, dancing and fireworks.) But we don’t receive presents on this day.

Q3. The Coming of Age Day means young people become adults. What would you like to do if you were becoming an adult?

A. Hmm… This is really hard question. (She smiled). I want to have a big family with a job that I want to have and be with sincere friends. And maybe do some things which are for world peace. (She smiled again mischievously)
Third interviewer is Carina who lives in Germany.

Q1. Does Germany have a Coming of Age Day?

A. In Germany we have no Day of Age. Young people are adults on their 18th birthday. On this day we have big parties and get lots of gifts. Most of the gifts we receive come from our parents or relatives. Friends will usually only give you congratulations or small gifts. It is celebrated as a big party. It is often also the first time we can officially drink alcohol. During the party, usually friends will come over and your family isn’t there. We celebrate in clubs or at home in our gardens or basements.

Q2. What do you think about wearing traditional clothes on Coming of Age Day?

A. We don´t wear traditional clothes. But I think it´s okay if someone wants to wear special clothes. We wear special clothes only for weddings and those kinds of events.

Q3. On this day we usually receive presents from our seniors or boyfriends and girlfriends. What do you think about this and what is a common present in Germany for your 18th birthday?

A. Well, in fact this isn’t a surprise for me. Also German University seniors take care of their freshmen. However romantic couples only give presents to their lovers. In Germany money or a car are common presents. Sometimes you get a driver license for a car. We need money to get a driver’s license.

It is true that the way people celebrate the Coming of Age Day is different from country to country. However it is also true that the Coming of Age Day is important everywhere when young people become adults. If you are here on the third Monday of May, how about taking the time to celebrate those people who will become adults and see a Korean traditional ceremony in Seonggyungwan? It will be a very special memory for you.

Kim Du-hyeon  kimduhyeon51@gmail.com

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