May is fun month for families here in South Korea~ on the 5th you have Children’s Day and shortly after you have Parent’s Day 어버이 날 on May 8th!
Parent’s Day // 어버이 날 in Korea is a combination of both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day~ individual holidays which most of us from the West are used to celebrating, but honestly it makes a LOT more sense to have both together in one day! Even though it is not a national holiday, it is still very much an important date on the Korean calendar! This tradition came over to Korea in 1956 originally as Mother’s day, but from 1973 the name changed to Parents day to include the Fathers and give them some love as well!
If you are new to Korea you will be able to tell Parent’s day is approaching by the number of special gifts and displays set up in stores, namely CARNATIONS! In Korea the symbol and iconic gift for parents day comes in the form of a carnation flower~traditionally it is red in color, but pink is another popular color! Parents Day in Korea works the same as the related holidays back home, you are supposed to buy a gift to express your love and gratitude to them for everything they have done.
What to buy for Parent’s Day in Korea
If you have Family here or find yourself with new Korean in-laws a small gift or flower arrangement will usually do the trick! Flowers are the standard gift here and the street will be filled with SUPER cute baskets for a few days leading up to the holiday! Carnations are the most common and traditional, namely red which signifies love~ you can find real flowers, fake, or very fancy basket flowers made of soap!
In addition to carnation flowers you can find an assortment of pins, keychains, pens, and phone straps featuring the flower that also make great gifts. The one pictured above is a gold dipped broach in the common “Thank you” ribbon shape, fancy!
In addition to the gifts of flowers some children also like to gifts themed around beauty, health, well-being etc. These can include spa treatments, massages, accessories for a sports hobby/exercise, gym memberships, beauty products, or a new (so I am told) popular gift for people who can afford it is full body clinic exams. Several centers offer this service in Korea, it does not come cheap, but they scan you for everything under the sun to make sure you are in the best of health! Gifts of cash money to parents are also not unheard of, as it is common to care for your parents in Korea and give them money allowences or gifts when you are an adult.
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Along with the gifts, families usually spend the day together doing an activity or have dinner out together.
So why are red carnations (or even carnations in general) the iconic symbol for Parent’s Day in Korea?
Apparently this is an American tradition originally tied to Mothers Day in the USA by the holidays founder who would hand out her Mother’s favorite white carnations. I had no idea about this, maybe because they do not slam us with the carnation special merch back home? Maybe it is one of those things I knew in grade school and have forgotten haha~ Anyway, this flower is supposed to convey love, purity, and admiration ♥ When the holiday was brought here that symbolism stuck extra hard.
Most flower arrangements given for special occasions or holidays in Korea have ribbons on them saying what its for (like “Congratulations”and such, shocker I know) so for Parents Day almost every arrangement for sale had ribbons that basically say ” Parental Graciousness~ Thank you” or it could be worded in English as “thank you parents for everything”.
Even tiny little baskets had teeny little ribbons on them saying thanks, it was really adorable to see mini versions.
This style of basket with the ribbon flower and hanging beads was EVERYPLACE for this holiday.
How about cute little carnation animals?? I love these!
We made sure to stop by a flower shop and get a basket made for Nara’s Parents ♥
The usual flower vendors in Seoul fill up the tables with 어버이 날 baskets!
The stores also have tables filled up with special Mom and Dad sets + Parents Day carnation themed gifts for the holiday! If you want to give them something cute in addition to or instead of a gift of flowers, these are great! The most common things are phone straps, brooches, and pens~ some of the items actually come in a set so you can give one to your mom and one to your dad.
Another fun thing that ties in with this holiday is Parent’s Day crafts!! SO MANY crafts are around for kids (or artsy people!) to create pretty gifts for parents, I suppose it is the same back at home~ younger children making gifts in glass out of paper and what-not. Kits are sold, but many are easy to make with computer printouts or origami paper!
Yummy Korean Parent’s Day cookies via the sugarrosey blog HERE!
Carnations made of ribbon and lace! These make great pins or gift decorations ^_^
Origami carnation walk-through (with photos and video) HERE
3D paper rose template! I found this on a Korean paper-craft blog, but it is actually an English craft kit!
You can find the PDF files HERE
Buy Korean Parents Day Gifts Online ♥
Like some of the cute accessories you saw in this post? Good news!!! I found out that a few from the cute Korean brand iswas are actually sold online! YAY! Seriously, I found these by accident and it was a happy surprise I like it when I find something from here online so I can point you to it properly lol
♥ update ♥
I wrote this post in 2012 so the item links have expired, but click the images to go to the iswas section of the shop and see what they have in stock currently!
Click the above images to see the related products! You can find ever more goodies for sale HERE~ straps, pens, cards, etc! These make pretty gifts for Korean parents, or actually any parent since some are in English! I love the Carnation pen *_* so puffy!!
Remember~ Parent’s Day 어버이 날 is held every year in Korea on the 8th of May!