Source: The World Institute of Kimchi
Koreans think “rice” gives you power and energy and call this “mighty rice power.” Kimchi has been rice’s best friend forever, verified in Korea’s long history since it maximizes its power. The two menus are like magnets on the table every meal. Wherever Koreans went, they took kimchi with them. However, kimchi was a typical dish for any Korean and also smelled bad with fermented seafood and garlic as it fermented and ripened, so at first, we were reluctant to introduce it to the world. However, now the whole world takes note of kimchi’s unique taste and excellent health functioning. Ever since “Kimjang Cultural Tradition” was registered on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, kimchi has been globally acknowledged as a creative dish reflecting Korean communities and invaluable food cultures. Korea also designated “Making Kimchi” as its national intangible cultural asset in 2017, and although one step behind, the nation finally determined “Kimchi Day” as a legal holiday in 2020. Our most proud cultural asset is now getting the recognition it deserves.
The significance of November 22, a special day of celebrating kimchi
Korea designated November 22 as “Kimchi Day” by amending the Kimchi Industry Promotion Act in February 2020 to properly inform kimchi’s excellence by reflecting on its cultural value and significance. Kimchi Day was decided on November 22 because Korean households usually make kimchi around this period. From old times, our ancestors considered the ideal kimchi-making season around November 7 at the setting-in of winter or November 22 at the first snow of the season.
This period is late fall when farming is done for the year, the best moment for kimchi’s long-term storage throughout winter. Although we now see some differences in the kimchi-making season due to fluctuating situations driven by the industrial society, such as global warming, Korea’s central districts usually make kimchi at the first snow of the season. Also, November 22 (11/22) symbolizes that each main and minor kimchi ingredient gathers 1 by 1 to present over 22 signs of effectiveness. Kimchi’s numerical symbol that main and minor ingredients gather one 1 by 1 for 22 signs of effectiveness implies its endless health functionalities. You can put whatever ingredient you want in kimchi, and its health functionality changes according to its materials and fermenting method, so its benefits are infinite. This also means that anyone anywhere in the world can make kimchi since its ingredients are unlimited, with localized fermenting methods forming new health functionalities benefitting residents in each region. In other words, Kimchi Day implies Korea’s wish to share kimchi’s nutritious value worldwide and succeed the kimjang cultural tradition as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.