We express our hearts of gratitude through carnations to our parents and teachers.
/Photography by Woo Ji-yeon
May is a month when there are many days to realize the value of people around us and express gratitude by looking back on the importance of parents and teachers. On Parents’ Day, we express our gratitude for our parents’ grace. In addition, on Teacher’s Day, we sincerely express our thankful feelings to teachers who work hard for us.
How did Parents’ Day and Teacher’s Day start? Surprisingly, Parents’ Day did not originally begin in Korea. It began with the custom of England and Greece to visit churches to express thanks to their parents. Another origin is that it originated in 1910 when an American woman handed out white carnations to church members in memory of her mother. Then, in 1914, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, designated the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day, and it became an official anniversary. Since then, in the U.S., on the second Sunday of May, children has given gifts to their mothers.
What about Teacher’s Day? It is an anniversary designated to reflect on the grace and love that teachers give and to express students’ gratitude in response. May 15th has been regarded as Teacher's Day every year, but not at first.
On May 26th, 1963, the Central Student Council of the Red Cross Youth(RCY) designated this day as Teacher’s Day and held various events. From 1965, it was changed to May 15th, which was the birthday of King Sejong. Then, it was briefly banned by the government policy in 1973, but revived when the military regime ended in 1982. Since 1958, the Korean Red Cross has been holding events to console faculty members who have contributed to the development of schools or retired faculty members due to illness on May 8th. However, it was a student in Chungcheongnam-do that triggered the establishment of Teacher’s Day in earnest. In 1963, a student at Ganggyeong High School visited a teacher who was lying in bed. At that time, he was working on JRC, which was the old name of RCY. He suggested to his friends who were working with him to visit a sick teacher together. Since then, the students selected a separate day to visit the retired teacher to repay to teacher’s kindness. These meaningful activities of students spread throughout Chungnam. In the end, September 21st was designated as “Teacher’s Day” in Chungnam. Since then, the proposal was proposed by the Central Student Council in Seoul in October of that year, with the intention that it would be better to do it all together across the country. Finally two years later, May 15th, the birthday of King Sejong, was officially designated as Teacher’s Day, and it is said that Teacher’s Day was created.
On Parents’ Day and Teacher’s Day, carnations are usually the means of expressing our minds. Why do we give carnations as gifts? The flower language of carnations is love and respect. However, the custom of giving carnations on Parents’ Day and Teacher’s Day was not created only because of the flower meaning. This is deeply related to the origin of Parents’ Day mentioned earlier. Around 1910, there was a woman who devoted herself to caring for orphans in a church in Virginia. A woman who was respected and loved by the church members, after she died because of illness, her daughter and the kids she cared for during her lifetime held a memorial service at the church. During the service, her daughter named Anna attached white carnations to those attending the memorial service, and the white carnations were then fitted as symbol for a memorial. Then in 1914, when the U.S. government designated the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day, the motherless presented white carnations like Anna, and others presented red carnations, and the custom continued until now. Carnations that began in the U.S. were introduced to Korea through missionaries.
Both Parents’ Day and Teacher’s Day began with personal work, but the way to express gratitude has grown richer and more meaningful, making it a special anniversary for people all over the world. On these days, why do you not reflect on the meaning of your warm heart that you couldn't express normally and deliver a message of respect with sincerity? There is nothing to be sorry about missing this day. Even if Parents’ Day and Teacher’s Day have passed, it would be good to express your gratitude in your own way even now.
Woo Ji-yeon firstname.lastname@example.org
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