Virginia is set to celebrate its first Kimchi Day on Nov. 22 in recognition of the thriving Korean American community in the state.
Virginia’s selected date, which coincides with Korea’s own Kimchi Day celebration, represents the 11 major ingredients of the dish and its 22 health benefits.
Made with fermented cabbage slathered with Gochugaru red paste, the celebrated dish is an essential part of Korean culture and a symbol of Korean identity and pride. In 2013, UNESCO designated the practice of kimjang (김장), or the process of creating and sharing kimchi, an intangible cultural heritage of Korea.
Rep. Shin, the first Korean American to occupy a seat in the Virginia House of Representatives, told DCist that the day marks the celebration of “cultural diversity and the heritage that makes our society and our Commonwealth so great today.
“We are home to one of the largest Korean populations in the country,” the lawmaker said during the Rules Committee hearing on the resolution. “The communities of Annandale and Centerville in Northern Virginia are vibrant and bustling population centers and hubs.”
On Saturday, the Korean American Women’s Association and ASIA Families celebrated the milestone by hosting a kimchi festival that included the ritual of kimchi preparation at Good Shepherd Evangelical Church in Springfield. About 150 attendees joined the festivities and even participated in preparing their own kimchi.
According to former House of Delegates legislator Mark Keam, a co-patron of the bill, Kimchi Day acknowledges how the U.S. has come to embrace Korean culture.
“By coming and bringing our stuff here and using it and making it mainstream, we’re actually helping create American culture,” Keam told The Washington Post.
South Korea established Kimchi Day as a federal holiday in 2020 amid claims by Chinese state media that the dish is Chinese in origin. The assertions were made after the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) awarded global certification for “pao cai,” the Chinese version of kimchi.
While Global Times described the certification as “an international standard for the kimchi industry led by China,” the official ISO listing specifically states that the document “does not apply to kimchi.”
The holidays in California and Virginia both counter the Chinese media claims, with the bills specifying that kimchi originates from Korea’s historical Three Kingdoms period.
California Assemblyman Steven Choi even stated that the bill he proposed was meant to correct China’s assertion that kimchi originated from a traditional Chinese dish.