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How Koreans Celebrate Valentine's Day

How Koreans Celebrate Valentine's Day

In the west, we generally celebrate two romantic holidays: anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. But did you know that in Korea, people celebrate a romantic holiday on the 14th of every month? This month, Koreans will be celebrating Valentine’s Day - but in a slightly different way than Westerners do.

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In the west, Valentine’s Day is for everyone to celebrate their love and give gifts to their significant other, regardless of their gender. However, in Korea, Valentine’s Day is a day for women to give chocolate to men as a sign of affection. Though this has been changing in recent years - with retailers releasing gifts targeted towards both men and women - women are traditionally the gift givers on Valentine’s Day.

Don’t worry, men become the ones giving gifts only a month later on March 14th in honor of White Day. The day is referred to as such because of the tradition for men to give women white-colored gifts, such as white chocolate or lingerie; though gifts have also diversified in recent years. Interestingly, some men also follow the “rule of three” for White Day - meaning that the gifts men give to women has to be at least three times the value of the gift that they received on Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is also known as Singles’ Awareness Day in many parts of the West, as a way to celebrate non-Koreans. In Korea, this day is celebrated on April 14th, known as Black Day. On Black Day, single people are meant to get together and eat jjajangmyeon, or noodles with a black sauce.

There are also other ‘love holidays’ that fall on the 14th of other months! 

January 14th: Diary Day

On Diary Day, partners buy each other yearly planners so that they can keep track of all their upcoming date nights, and write down fond memories in the blank journal pages.

May 14th: Rose Day/Yellow Day

When May flowers are in full bloom, couples put on yellow clothing and exchange bouquets of roses, preferably yellow ones. Singles can partake in the holiday by eating Korean yellow curry, in an attempt to spice up their love lives. 

June 14th: Kiss Day

Public displays of affection are discouraged in Korean culture, but Kiss Day gives partners an excuse to break free from that social norm. On June 14, couples can go out to summer events and kiss without drawing stares.

July 14th: Silver Day

As relationships grow more serious, Silver Day is seen as a day to exchange silver promise rings that signify the couple’s commitment.

August 14th: Green Day

This holiday encourages making the most of a lazy summer day by drinking together outdoors. On August 14, couples might meet up for a stroll in Seoul Forest, followed by a picnic under the trees with a bottle of soju.

September 14th: Photo Day/Music Day

September is dedicated to two of the favorite pastimes of many young people in South Korea: photo-taking and singing. On this holiday, couples go to photo sticker booths or portrait studios to take photos. After photos have been taken, couples will also do duets at karaoke.

October 14th: Wine Day

October 14th is a day for couples to toast to their relationships with a bottle of wine. Though most who celebrate choose to partake in the traditional wine from overseas, there is locally-made pink-colored wine made from fruits, such as raspberry or magnolia berry.

November 14th: Movie Day

Movie Day gives couples a reason to watch a romantic film in a theater, however, many prefer to rent out a private screening room for a movie of their choosing.

December 14th: Hug Day/Sock Day

A warm embrace is especially welcome in chilly December. On Hug Day, couples squeeze each other tight. Since hugs are free, brands have encouraged couples to exchange pairs of socks as another way of staying toasty. 

Interested in learning more about other Korean romantic holidays? Let us know in the comments down below!

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