Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Because Valentine's Day wasn't enough.

If you think Paris is for lovers, try again.  While Parisians are rather okay with lovers loving on the street, Korea is all about giving you the holidays for love (though, preferably, with minimal PDA).  Korea has so many holidays I can't count them all, and I feel like they keep adopting more.  I want to focus specifically on the love-related holidays, but, just in case you felt like complaining about the gift-giving holidays in America (or wherever you're from), I'd just like to list out the holidays in Korea, and, yes, almost all of them require gifts (specific ones that the stores will conveniently position at entrances in big gift boxes).
Get ready for a country that truly likes this phrase.

Solar Holidays and Memorial Days 

Lunar Holidays and Memorial Days
  • Seolnal, 설날 New Year's (Seol-nal)- 1st day of 1st lunar month, plus the day before and after
  • Dae bo rum, 대보름 – First full moon festival, occurs on the 15th day of the month 1 on the lunar calendar (basically two weeks after seollal)
  • Seokga tansinil, 석가탄신일 Buddha's Birthday (Seokka Tanshin-il)- 8th day of 4th lunar month
  • Dano, 단오 — Spring festival, which follows on day 5 of month 5 on the lunar calendar, which usually puts it in June on the Gregorian calendar
  • Chuseok, 추석 Harvest Moon Festival (Chuesok)- 14-16th days of 8th lunar month
  • Seotdal Geumeum, Lunar New Year’s Eve — Stay up all night and see the first sun rise of the new year.
And, just in case that wasn't enough celebrating for you, there's also the love-related holidays.  There's dissension on this list, but I'll list what I know. (Slash, I'm doing a lot of copying and pasting here.  I'll list all of my sources at the bottom.)  Hold on to your hats.

Couples' Holidays
Almost all of the Korean love holidays are
arbitrarily on the 14th of the month.
  • January 14th: Diary Day - Couples or friends give each other the gift of blank pages for the new year. It’s said that girls usually do this to encourage their boyfriends to write about their time together.  Others argue it's so that guys will write down their anniversaries.
  • February 14th: Valentine’s Day - Pretty just what you’d expect. Chocolate sales. Red decorations. Champagne bottles. Except women are expected to give gifts to men. Granted, there’s more of a platonic nature to the events of February 14th in Korea.  Women give gifts to their male friends, even acquaintances out of a sense of obligation, and out of courtesy and friendship.
  • March 14th: White Day - This day is more what Americans would expect Valentine’s Day to be: men giving women gifts. It’s not uncommon for most of the gifts to be white in color: white chocolate, white roses, marshmallows, white toys. Again, obligation, courtesy, friendship in the workplace.
  • April 14th: Black Day - Black Day is unique to South Korea. If you are single, or at the very least had no one to give you something on Valentine’s Day or White Day, you go out in groups and eat jajangmyeon (자장면), noodles with black bean paste. It’s quite tasty… the taste of loneliness.
  • May 14th: Yellow Day/Rose Day - Couples are traditionally supposed to wear yellow clothes and exchange bouquets of roses (yes, for men too) as a sign of love. Single people are supposed to go eat yellow curry.
  • June 14th: Kiss Day - It's exactly what you think it is.
  • July 14th: Silver Day - Silver rings are exchanged between couples on this day as a promise to get married. It also happens to be when couples choose to introduce each other to their parents.
  • August 14th: Green Day - If you’re in a relationship, this is a day to go hiking, walk in a park, or just be out in nature. If you’re single, it’s a day to indulge in massive amounts of that beverage that comes in green bottles, soju (소주).  I've also heard it said that couples get drunk on soju together then go for that walk.
  • September 14th: Photo Day/Music Day - A day to take pictures of each other and finish up with some noraebang (노래방)... Although, that seems to be every day in Korea, so I think we missed the point of having a holiday.  It's also said that you should make a mix CD for your significant other.
  • October 14th: Wine Day
  • November 14th: Movie Day... Some people put Hug Day here, too.
  • December 14th: Hug Day - These last three are all what you think they are.  I feel no need to explain them. - Others declare this Money Day... where you drop a wad of cash on your significant other.
Those are all the 14's, but WAIT!  There's also Pepero day!  Pepero (aka Pocky) is a stick-shaped cookie dipped in candy coating, so on  11/11, the date looks like a bunch of Pepero.  People should give boxes of the stuff to the people they love on that day.  By the way... 11/11 is Pocky Day in Japan.  Don't tell the Koreans that they celebrate a same holidays as their neighbors to the East... please.  It'll probably make for a bunch of nationalism that'll end up giving me a headache.
Furthermore, Christmas and Solar New Year's Eve are days to spend with your significant other as well.

Sources for more information:

Now that I'm thoroughly disgusted, Go be grateful that you only have 5 major gift-giving holidays a year plus birthdays.

In case you couldn't guess, I'm not a romantic.

1 comment:

  1. ooooo I love pocky!!!! err... pepero...

    I would celebrate that day whole-heartedly and by heart I mean stomach...