UN International Day of Families 2012

Day of Families Observed in Madrid


Madrid, Spain - An International Day of Families program on May 20 at the Peace Embassy in Madrid attracted young people, couples, and Ambassadors for Peace. It was an international group, with 24 participants from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Germany, the US, and Spain.

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Mrs. Sophia Kirkley, a graduate of the University of Bridgeport in the US and teacher in a Madrid school, gave an introduction about the meaning of the International Day of Families beginning with a reference to St. Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid. On May 15 the families in Madrid make a pilgrimage to San Isidro's meadow to celebrate his day, drink the holy water of his fountain, and enjoy festive food. "We are celebrating the International Day of Families, May 15, in this Peace Embassy as people from different countries, and we are all part of the same international family. The UN General Assembly created this Day in 1993, reflecting the importance of the family all over the world. Now that the world is more connected through communications systems, many old barriers are falling down; we have in common an understanding of the family as the 'school of love.' Today is an opportunity to share insights about family values and about Korea as a good model for these values."

Professor Emilio Asti from the University of Milan, a specialist in Oriental studies, spoke about Korea: “With their 5000-year history Koreans are one of the most homogeneous people, speaking the same language and valuing filial piety and patriotism. Situated between China and Japan, the Korean peninsula has been a repository of cultural and artistic achievements and acted as a cultural channel between these two countries; despite numerous invasions it has maintained its individuality. Korea has been playing a crucial role in the Far East and has been a battlefield between two opposite ideologies: communism and democracy. The Korean peninsula is a strategic area for peace and development and various attempts to reunify this divided country have been made.

Korean family values were explained. The family is the most important part of Korean life. In the Confucian tradition, the father is the head of the family, and it is his responsibility to provide food, clothing, and shelter and to approve the marriages of family members. The eldest son has special duties, first to his parents, then to his brothers from older to younger, then to his sons, then to his wife, and lastly to his daughters. The teachings of Confucius stress the obligations of people towards one another based upon five core relationships: 1) ruler and subject, 2) husband and wife, 3) parents and children, 4) brothers and sisters, and 5) friend and friend. Confucianism stresses duty, loyalty, honor, filial piety, respect for elderly and those in positions of seniority, and sincerity.

Family welfare is much more important than the needs of the individual in a traditional society such as Korea. Members of the family are tied to each other because the actions of one family member reflect on the rest of the family. Many families' registry traces the family's history through male ancestors for over 500 years. Children are raised to believe they can never repay their debt to their parents, hence the popularity of ancestor worship. Ancestral ceremonies are held for the previous three generations several times a year, particularly on New Year's Day and on Chusok (the autumn full-moon festival), when people cook special food and offer it to their ancestors.

A video was shown about the Little Angels Korean folk dance group founded by Dr. Sun Myung Moon. People were impressed by the beauty of their portrayal of Korean culture. Appropriate to the International Day of Families, one of the dances was a wedding dance. The two Koreans present led the singing of Korean folk songs "Omaya," "Doraji," "Arirang," and "Tongil." The discussions, video, and music helped people get a sense of Korean culture and family traditions

The "Helping Others Award" was given to Pres. Pilar Gutiérrez and her daughter Sandra Gutiérrez of the Association “Unidos por la Vida” in recognition of their excellent work done to help women. They meet with women considering an abortion and encourage them to think adoption, and they counsel women who have had an abortion. A Catholic, Mrs. Gutiérrez talks about seeking divine guidance and empowerment as she works with women in need.

To read more about UPF observances of the International Day of Families 2012, click here.

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