Editor’s Note: This was originally published in the Ulsan Pear (the newspaper predecessor to UlsanOnline.com – you can check out the archives here) in February 2006. I’m republishing it here in celebration of White Day, which is tomorrow.
By Mike Weber
Every country and culture has its own unique courtship rituals. Sometimes, ideas and customs get borrowed. Things are lost in the translation, but sometimes things are gained as well.
In Korea, simply having one Valentine’s Day is not enough . Each month, the 14th is set aside for lovers (or in some cases, the loveless). No one is entirely sure where and how some of these days started. They seem to have began as loose high school traditions. Much like urban legends, they have become more widely circulated via the internet. There is no central authority of the days and how they should be observed. Check a dozen different Cyworld home pages, and you’ll see a dozen different variations on the themes. Here’s a rough break down of the twelve “lover’s holidays” in Korea (not including Pepero Day, Christmas, birthdays etc).
January 14th – “Diary Day”
The customary gift is a year-long daily planner or calendar. Exceptionally devoted lovers will mark off certain days, such as the 200 or 300 day anniversaries of their couplehood, as well as birthdays and whatnot.
February 14th – “Valentine’s Day”
The original. Korean girls celebrate the Gnostic teachings of Valentinius by giving chocolate to their boys.
March 14th – “White Day”
This day is set aside for the boys to reciprocate gifts of chocolate to their ladies.
April 14th – “Black Day”
A holiday anyone can appreciate, those who are unlucky in love celebrate their bitterness with “jajangmyang,” a Chinese dish of noodles and black bean sauce.
May 14th – “Rose Day”
Lovers exchange roses and sentiments, among other things. Alternately, the 14th of May can also be “Yellow Day,” which is celebrated with curry.
June 14th – “Kiss Day”
The human mouth contains over 300 strains of bacteria, several types of fungus, and millions of individual microbes. Have a happy Kiss Day!
July 14th –“Silver Day”
A gift of silver jewelry is the traditional exchange for this day. Silver is a tasteful alternative to gold, which has been ruined by mafia goons and rappers.
August 14th– “Green Day”
Even Billie Joe would approve of taking your loved one to a scenic, rustic area and enjoying a green bottle of soju together.
September 14th – “Music and Photo Day”
On this day, take your sweetheart somewhere where you can enjoy music. And also, take a photo.
October 14th – “Wine Day”
What’s more romantic than enjoying a quiet bottle of wine with a loved one? Find a nice, candlelit locale and splurge of a bottle of the good stuff. It sure beats chocolate.
November 14th – “Movie Day”
The traditional “dinner and a movie” date of the West gets its very own day in Korea. Surely with the immense volume of high quality cinema that Hollywood has been putting out lately, you’ll have no trouble finding a movie worth seeing.
December 14th – “Hug Day”
As the name implies, this day is for hugs. You don’t need a sweetheart to enjoy this day; anyone likes a good hug. Especially if they’re drunk.
You’ll never need to wait more than a month to have an opportunity for romance: you can woo your special someone all year long. Enjoy some Korean culture and make every 14th a special day.