Culture,  Events,  Lifestyle

Korean Valentine’s: Love, Chocolate & Jajangmyeon

With the day of hearts just around the corner, most business establishments have already changed the look of their shops by sticking a few pieces of heart-shaped decorations on their glass windows and displaying images of a cupid with its arrow and other cute trinkets to create a sweet and romantic atmosphere for Valentine’s Day.

In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is that time of year when couples buy gifts, prepare surprises and go on a romantic date with their significant other. And because of the romantic vibe, some guys take this as the perfect opportunity to confess their feelings to the girl they have a secret crush on. A few brave men even muster the courage to propose to their girlfriend and ask their hand for marriage on this romantic day.

But that is not the case in Korea. Valentine’s Day in Korea is not as big of a deal as it is in the Philippines and the way they celebrate it is quite different from what we’re accustomed to.

Valentine’s Day

It’s more common for us to see guys giving gifts and preparing all sorts of surprises for their lady but in Korea, it’s the ladies who give chocolates to their partner or to a guy they’re interested in. Some ladies even take it up a notch and show their sincere and romantic feelings for the guy by taking their time to make handmade chocolates and embellish them with cute decorations because there’s nothing more heartwarming than receiving a handmade gift on a special day.

But times have changed and now some girls also give store-bought chocolates to their male colleagues and friends, whether they have romantic feelings for them or not, to show them that they care for them as well. Probably it’s also because they don’t want some of their guy friends to feel left out or sad about not receiving anything on Valentine’s Day and think that no one cares for them. Awww. Isn’t it sweet? Everyone deserves to get a treat on Valentine’s Day! After giving the chocolates, the ladies will have to wait for a month for an ‘answer’.

White Day

Traditionally, the men who received gifts on Valentine’s Day will have to ‘reply’ by sending some sweets and other gifts on the 14th day of March. This day is called ‘White Day’. This is a relatively new holiday which started in Japan in 1978 wherein it’s the men’s turn to show their feelings to the woman they’re romantically interested in.

The gifts given by men tend to be more expensive than the gifts given by women because some of them follow the “Triple the Return” rule which is a general rule for men to repay the gifts with items that are worth three times more than what they have received on Valentine’s Day. Although this rule is no longer in practice, some guys still use it as a rough guide on how much they should spend on their gifts.

White symbolizes pure love and it is also the color of sugar so originally, men gave gifts that are mainly white such as white chocolates or wrapping the gifts in white wrapping paper but dark chocolates and other non-white gifts have also become common White Day gifts now.

Valentine’s Day and White Day is the perfect time to hoard chocolates and other sweet treats. A lot of Korean shops do a 1+1 promo (buy 1, take 1 promo) on special days as part of their marketing strategy to increase sales. If you’re in Korea right now, make sure to grab a few sweet treats for you and your friends.

Black Day

What about those who didn’t receive any gift on Valentine’s Day or White Day? Well, some singles who didn’t get a gift meet up with their fellow single friends on Black Day, which is on the 14th of April, to eat jajangmyeon (자장면) or noodles with black bean sauce.

Jajangmyeon (자장면) or black bean noodles | Image Credit: HoneyKki

Originally, Black Day is a day for singles to comfort each other for not getting a gift on Valentine’s Day and White Day and drown their sorrows by eating comfort food such as jajangmyeon. Although this holiday is not as widely celebrated as Valentine’s Day and White day, some singles still get together not to lament but to celebrate their singlehood.

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, the 3 Korean romantic holidays has got you covered.

Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day? What do you think about singles getting together and celebrating singlehood on Black Day? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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해피 발렌타인데이 여러분! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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