The Commercialization of Parent’s Day: A Day of Burden for Students
The Commercialization of Parent’s Day: A Day of Burden for Students
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2018.05.27 12:55
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May is the month of family in Korea. However, out of the many commemoration days in May, the day many Koreans consider the most important is Parent’s Day. Korea began celebrating Mother’s Day in 1956 but changed the name to Parent’s Day in 1973 to thank both parents. The day originates from Mother’s Day in the U.S., which can be traced back to Ann Jarvis, who inspired the holiday by her endeavors to help families from falling apart during hard times. After she died, her daughter Anna Jarvis dedicated herself to the creation of a national holiday to honor overworked, underappreciated mothers. She chose white carnations to represent the holiday because they were her mother’s favorite flowers. However, the flower industry quickly manipulated the demand after realizing that red carnations were more profitable, which is why red carnations are sold on the streets today. Other industries soon joined in on the moneymaking opportunity. Under the guise of showing appreciation on Parent’s Day, we are bombarded with discount events and pressured to join in on the commercialized event. While gift-giving itself can be considered a fine way to show appreciation, this act has become a social mandate and an economic burden for students who are not financially independent. A freshman from the Department of Chemistry and Nanoscience who wishes to remain anonymous commented that she contemplated a great deal before finally deciding on red ginseng for her Parent’s Day gift. “Yes, the red ginseng was very expensive considering the allowance I’m given, but I didn’t know what else to get my parents other than health food,” the student stated. “Parent’s Day wasn’t really burdensome when I was in high school, but now that I’m in university and considered an adult, I feel like I have to do something more for my parents.” She added that she bought such an expensive present for her parents because she knew they were expecting something. In 2016, job hunting portals JobKorea and Albamon anticipated university students to spend an average of 94,000 won for Parent’s Day. Their survey of 2,981 adults found 78.3 percent of the respondents to consider Parent’s Day to be the most burdensome among the many commemoration days of May. Because it is the norm for adults in Korea to give something to their parents on Parent’s Day, students, especially those in their twenties and not financially independent, r e s p o n d e d t h a t c h o o s i n g a n appropriate gift for their parents was particularly stressful. It only gets more troublesome for students as this tradition of gift-giving turns into a social obligation as an increasing number of parents have begun to be disappointed if their children come home empty-handed. According to a survey by Lina Life Insurance in 2015, 82 percent of 500 parents aged 50 and above wanted materialistic presents for Parent’s Day. Only 18 percent of the respondents wanted handwritten letters. None wanted a carnation. The commercialization of the holiday has twisted its form of celebration for both parents and children. However, gifts are only a small part of what the day can mean. Especially for financially dependent students, following the gift standards of full-fledged adults merely makes the day difficult. One fact to consider is that as soon as Anna Jarvis realized what Mother’s Day had become, she devoted the rest of her life to fighting it. Whether it be visiting your parents or sending a handwritten letter, it is high time to fight the commercialist trend and reestablish the custom of sons and daughters doing the things they wanted to do for their parents but normally did not have the excuse to do. 

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