To both the singles and the couples, the annual 14th Feb aka Valentine’s Day celebration holds a great significance because it’s a meaningful day. Jacked up menu prices, roses, and chocolates aside, the now “Hallmark holiday” is observed and celebrated in many countries around the world despite it not being a public holiday.
Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the “Feast of Saint Valentine”, began as a celebration of someone named Valentinus. There has been many versions of the backstory but a popular hagiographical account (of Saint Valentine of Rome) states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.
Also, according to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.
Fast forward to many hundreds of years later, as we mentioned earlier, Valentine’s Day is very much a “Hallmark holiday” now, an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, sending greeting cards (known as “Valentines”), or splurging on the ever more expensive gifts just that one time a year.
Here’s the thing though; Did you know that there are several “Valentine’s Day”s in a year in the world?
For example, it has been said that in South Korea, Valentine’s Day is a bit different from everywhere else in world because it’s one of 12 “love days” celebrated on the 14th of every month in the country. These days range from the popular (White Day) or depressing (Black Day), to the bizarre (Hug Day) and everything in between. Big money is both spent and made on Valentine’s and White Day, while the other love days receive little to no commercial attention.
Here, let us break ’em down for you:
14th January – Candle & Diary Day:
Since it falls in January and the beginning of the new year, it’s assumed that people would have confessions to make to their lover or their loved ons. Hence, one would usually present a gift in the form of a diary book to the other half so that he/she can document every single memorable moment together.
14th February – Valentine’s Day
Of course, you all already known this one. Just like anywhere else in the world, big celebrations are held for this day. For those who want to finally confess their love, they can in the form of sentimental presents e.g. chocolates, candies, roses, jewellery, etc. Here’s the catch: In South Korea, the recipient can actually “respond” to the giver on the following 14th (read: 14th March), which is known as “White Day”.
14th March – White Day
No, “White Day” isn’t a dress code day of some sort. On this day, men are expected to reciprocate with non-chocolate candy to the woman/women who showered them with gifts on Valentine’s Day. This is also popularly known as the day of the truth because it’s when a woman or women will know whether their previous confessions was a success/accepted or not. Also the start of many relationships, of course.
14th April – Black Day
After “White Day” comes “Black Day” – although it’s not really a day of mourning per se. What usually happens on this day is that the singles that didn’t receive a Valentine’s Day or White Day gift will congregate to eat “Jjajyangmyeon” (Black Noodles) with other single friends. It’s really not all that miserable, since the weather in South Korea at this time is generally fair and mild, and summer is around the corner, hence an awesome time for a get-together!
14th May – Yellow & Rose Day
If you’re still single by this day, feel free to wear something yellow be it a shirt or a dress – whichever suits you better. Because the colour of your clothes will imply a “I’m still available” message to others around you. This is also the very same day where a gift of red roses would indicate a confession to someone whereas a gift of yellow roses is a sign of “Goodbye”. Yellow roses also signifies friendship, by the way. Take note!
14th June – Kiss Day
Not that couples or people in love generally need a day to tell them to kiss but in South Korea, 14th June is the official “Kiss Day”. And that’s kind of self-explanatory, no? ;) Just don’t be shocked to see people going at it (by that, we mean kissing) while you’re taking a stroll down the streets in say Hongdae or Myeongdong. It’s absolutely normal!
14th July – Silver Day
If South Koreans ever needed a day to “pressure” their other halves into meeting their parents, this day would be it. Also known as the “Silver Day”, 14th July is known as a day in which you need to meet the parents. Sure, it sounds scary – but it’s also an excuse for you to bring your other half to meet your parents. So really, no one has it easier than the other.
14th August – Green Day
True to its every word, “Green Day” is a day for couples to go out and be one (or rather, two) with nature. It’s a big plus for couples who already love outdoorsy activities such as hiking, swimming, running, so on and so forth. If your other half isn’t naturally inclined to doing things outdoors, then this would be a good opportunity to introduce some activities to him/her. Hey, it could be interesting ;)
14th September – Music & Photo Day
If you managed to hit your “outdoor activities with other half” goal the previous month, then it’s time to move on to better things such as social activities! On “Music & Photo Day”, you can formally introduce your boyfriend/girlfriend to your friends, colleagues, so on and so forth. Keep it casual so that interaction won’t be awkward, but also plan fun stuff to do such as dancing, a photoshoot, maybe a karaoke sessions, you get the drift.
14th October – Wine Day
Well, this one’s quite a no-brainer but yes, 14th October is a good opportunity for you to enjoy a great candlelit dinner complete with a delicious main course of your choice (steak, medium rare?), wine, and classical music. Ah, romance is in the air!
14th November – Orange & Movie Day
Not that it should dictate the only time in a year when you’re allowed to catch a flick but the “Orange & Movie Day” encourages couples to hurry on up and get to the nearest cinema. They’d also need to make a stop at the concession stand to purchase some orange juice because supposedly, it’s a reminder of “sweet and sour moments of you two”. Whatever that means! Cute, nonetheless.
14th December – Hug Day
No explanations needed. Just don’t walk around offering hugs to random people!
In the Chinese culture, there are two Valentine’s Days in a year. One is called the Chinese Valentine’s Day aka Qixi (七夕) Festival and another is known as “Chap Goh Mei”.
The Chinese Valentine’s Day aka Qixi (七夕) Festival
Also known as “The Night of Sevens”, it’s celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar and commemorates a day on which a legendary cowherder and weaving maid are allowed to be together. According to the legend, the cowherd star and the weaver maid star are normally separated by the Milky Way (silvery river) but are allowed to meet by crossing it on this day.
The other Chinese Valentine’s Day aka Chap Goh Mei
On the 15th day of Chinese New Year, singles gather around bodies of water to celebrate a day called, “Chap Goh Mei”. Those who are wishing for some romance in their lives will participate in the ritual of throwing Mandarin oranges containing their personal details (written on it) into rivers or lakes, in hopes of finding their match.
So, if you’re game to celebrate them all, we say go for it. All in the name of love and some fun, no? ;)
Meanwhile, in conjunction with the upcoming Valentine’s Day, we’ve picked some of our all-time favourite romantic South Korean films to stay in and get cosy with. Sounds like a good plan to you too? Check ’em out here.
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