May: A Family Month in Korea

May is my favorite month. Like I said in a previous post, it was in May when we had our Korean wedding ceremony in 2004. It is also when my son was born, on the 24th. In Korea, May is celebrated as the family month (Hangeul: 가정의 달).

A cake, paper carnations and a letter for Parents' Day 2011

May 5th is Children’s Day (Hangeul: 어린의날). This is a non-working holiday, but too bad that it falls on a Saturday this year. Nevertheless, we celebrate this day by giving presents to children. It is also a very busy day so we try to avoid going to public places and theme parks. Last year, we went to the Cartoon Network Playground at Banpo Hangang Park.
Instead of separate days honoring our moms and dads, we celebrate Parents’ Day (Hangeul: 어버이날)on May 8th. This is not a non-working holiday but on this day, you’ll see children giving their parents carnations. The flower means “pure love” and we only the purest love for our parents, don’t we?
Teacher’s or Mentor’s Day is celebrated on the 15th. It’s called 스승의날 in Korean. This year, I will be teaching at my son’s day care for free to give his teacher a rest she deserves. I’ve received presents from students every Teacher’s Day eventhough I never expected any. The nicest present I got was a simple card saying “Thank you”.
On the third Monday of the month is 성년의날 or Coming-of-age Day. In the Philippines, this is a personal celebration especially for girls. We call it a “debut” and is celebrated on one’s 18th birthday. In Korea nowadays, special programs are held where 19-year olds come to drink alcohol.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget Couples’ Day which is held on May 21st. This is to celebrate the importance of personal relationships. So how do couples spend this day? Your guess is as good as mine ;p
Other celebrations during the month of May are:
May 1st is Labor Day. It is not an official non-working holiday but some companies observed it by giving their workers a rest ;p
May 18th is the day we commemorate the Gwangju Democratization Movement. I became aware of this after watching the best Korean drama ever – “Sandglass”.
Buddha’s Birthday. The date changes every year depending on the lunar calendar. In 2012, 석가탄신일 falls on May 28th, Monday. This is one of the most colorful festivals in Korea. There is a Lantern Festival along the Cheonggyecheon. There is also the much-awaited Lantern Parade that starts from Dongguk University to Jogyesa. I love this parade. It’s so colorful with all the participants’ costumes and the traditional and modern lanterns that pass by the long Jongro Avenue.
Marine Day or 바다의날 on May 31st emphasizes the importance of marine environment. Government and NGOs alike conduct clean-ups of the beaches during this day.
Oh… we shouldn’t forget that on May 14, it is Rose Day where lovers give each other roses to express their love. It is also Yellow Day when the single and unattached who failed to eat jjajangmyeon or black bean noodles on Black Day (April 14) eat yellow curry rice. Remember that the 14th day of every month is special in Korea.
Did I mention that my son’s birthday is on the 24th? And our Korean wedding anniversary is on the 9th!
Whew! I love May. So many celebrations. So many fun things to do.


  1. How I love ‘teacher’s day’ here in Korea. I get all the pampering I could get from the parents of my ‘kids’ in Seoul.^^
    And my students at Yoon’s will have an advance surprise party for me on Monday. They told me to come late(which is the best part)’coz they still have to prepare…

  2. Hi Ms. Betchay! I often confuse 스승님 with 선생님, I wonder if they have differences in meaning…

  3. Its really a month for family..:)
    BTW, happy family day and happy wedding anniversary too!!!

    1. Thanks Anne! He said that he’s not gonna be Superman because he is not an alien. He now wants to be a soldier of the ROK!

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