- The origin of the holiday
It is said that Teacher’s day in South Korea originated in Seoul, back in 1963, when a group of Red Cross youth members started visiting their sick ex-teachers in hospitals. These visits gradually transformed into a celebration which was held on the 26th of May.
<Children giving flowers to their teacher>
- When is it celebrated today?
To commemorate the birth of SeJong the Great, the creator of the Korean alphabet, in 1965, the date for Teacher’s Day has been changed to the 15th of May. Also, there has been a period of cancellation between 1973 and 1982, when South Korea shut down the national ceremonies celebrating the holiday. Teacher’s day’s celebration has been continued afterwards.
<Sejong the Great>
Source: The Seoul Guide
- What do the teachers receive from their students on this day?
On Teacher’s Day, Korean students usually show their respect to their teachers by giving them carnations, the same ones that children give out to their parents on Parent’s Day (8th of May). The tradition of carnation-giving has been in South Korea since 1963. Also, students craft handmade “love cards”, in which they express their gratitude towards their favourite teachers.
<Love cards written by students>
<Teacher’s Day in 2012>
Source: Asian Correspondent
<Teacher’s Day celebration at KyungSung University, Busan>
Source: Busan Metropolitan City
<Teacher’s receiving letters from students, Jeju Island, 2019>
- Closed schools during Teacher’s Day?
Nowadays there are some schools that either have a half-day or even don’t have classes at all on Teacher’s Day. The explanation is that it is said many parents see this day as an excuse to give teachers expensive gifts, which are thought to be bribes. Based on “The Improper Solicitation and Graft Act”, the gift shouldn’t be more expensive than 50.000 won (approximately 42 U.S Dollars).
For this reason, some schools prefer to organize outings for their teachers to avoid this from happening. However, both current and former students visit their teachers on this day to pay their respects.
<Gifts for teachers>
- Teacher’s day around the world
As we all probably know, South Korea isn’t the only country that celebrates and honors their educators. Teacher’s Day is also held in Mexico, knows as “Dia del Maestro”, on the 15th of May, celebrating with several cultural events. India, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Venezuela, Romania and Poland are only some of the countries which are known to celebrate Teacher’s day in some form, mainly by preparing small gifts and activities for their teachers.
In the U.S, National Teacher Appreciation Week, which takes place in the first week of May, has been established back in 1985 by the National PTA. World’s teacher’s day is also celebrated around the globe on the 5th of October.
<World’s Teacher’s Day poster in 2018>
Source: Unesco Official Site