Valentine’s Day in Korea: February not only month love is in the air

Valentine’s Day in Korea: February not only month love is in the air

by Hyemin Lee
Stripes Korea

Like most Western countries, Korea celebrates Valentine’s Day as a big romantic holiday on Feb. 14, albeit with a Korean twist.

Here in Korea, it’s women who gift men chocolate and gifts on Valentine’s Day. The unofficial holiday isn’t only for couples as it’s also a day for single women to be brave and confess their feelings to their crush. At middle and high schools, girls also use the day as an excuse to make a love confession to their crushes.

It’s true that Valentine’s Day is the start of many couples’ love stories.

One month later, on March 14, it’s the men’s turn to break out the sweets and charm on White Day. This reciprocal holiday was actually an invention by a confectionary company in Japan decades ago to sell more sweets. The custom has since spread to other East Asian countries.

Both romantic holidays stir up big celebrations in Korea. Most stores have large displays of chocolates, candies, other sweets and flowers. You’ll see plenty of businesses targeting customers with special products as these holidays approach.

Forever alone in April
If, despite the first two romantic days of the year, you still find yourself alone, then Black Day on April 14 is for you.

It’s called Black Day because it’s a depressing day where lonely singles are meant to gather in black attire, eat black bean sauce noodles (jjajang-myeon 짜장면) and drink Americano coffees.

This day is for those who were not successful in finding a boyfriend or girlfriend. Unlike Western culture, Koreans tend to see being single as a sad and depressing thing. Some businesses hold events to invite singles to eat black bean sauce noodles together. Lonely singles attend the event in hopes of finding their match among other lonely singles.

Love celebrated monthly
Though Valentine’s Day and White Day are big in Korea, the celebration of love is taken a step further with other romantically-related holidays on the 14th of every month.

In an ideal world, singles have coupled up by April 14, so the rest of the holidays are to celebrate being a couple in love! 

- May 14 – Rose Day 
A day to give a bouquet of roses to your partner. 

- June 14 – Kiss Day
A day to kiss your partner to express affection.

- July 14 – Silver Day 
A day to exchange “couple rings,” which are silver rings and a symbol of commitment.

- Aug. 14 – Green Day 
This is a day to pack a picnic and drink Korean alcoholic drinks together. 

- Sept. 14 – Photo Day 
A day to take nice photos together.

- Oct. 14 – Wine Day
A day to drink red wine together.

- Nov. 14 – Movie Day
A day to watch a good movie together.

- Dec. 14 – Hug Day
A day to give your partner a warm embrace in the chilly winter.

- Jan. 14 – Diary Day
To make a plan for the new year together, couples exchange a yearly planner.

Another unofficial and commercial holiday is Pepero Day on Nov. 11. Pepero is a popular snack of thin cookie sticks that look like the number one, so four together form 11/11 or Nov. 11 on the calendar. On Nov. 11, Pepero packs are given to friends and family.

Though the 12 Korean love holidays make it seem like Koreans are keen about celebrating couples, you don’t need to worry if you’re single! Besides Valentine’s Day, White Day, and Pepero Day, the other love holidays are in fact minor holidays that most Koreans don’t celebrate.

In any culture, expressing love for someone is significant matter because everyone wants to love and be loved. I think it’s a cute that the 12 love holidays show that Korean’s wish to make every month special with their partner.

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