In the United States, Valentine’s Day is mainly a day catered to females. Men are responsible for planning dates, getting flowers, getting the right gift, etc. A botched Valentine’s Day for someone in a relationship or trying to get into one can cause everything to fall apart. For single people, it’s a time to reminisce about past loves, mope about being single, or go out to singles themed nights at bars.
In Korea, Valentine’s Day is ‘celebrated’ completely differently; it’s all but a meaningless holiday. The attitude towards it seems on par with the attitude people have towards Pancake Day in America, they might know it’s there, but most do nothing about it. (God I love Pancake Day)
Dinner reservations aren’t difficult to get. Kids don’t cut out hearts at school and give them to people. Stores aren’t overrun with boxes of chocolate or cards, and you sure as hell won’t find those heart shaped pieces of sugar which say cheesy phrases on them. Pretty lame.
So, you might be wondering, ‘what about flowers?’ Ahh yes, the obligatory item on Valentine’s Day. Well, if one were so inclined, they could get 3 dozen roses for just over $45. Cheap! However, the only problem you’d have in actually getting the flowers is that since the school semester ends around this time, a lot of flowers are being ordered for the kids so they might be short on supply. I’m not kidding, this is the reasoning one would be given if they were so inclined to order flowers, weird, but if one of your students parents owns a flower shop they might help you out.
The ‘protocol’ on Valentine’s Day here is as follows: Women give chocolate to a man they like. The always trustworthy Wikipedia has informed me that women give two types of chocolate out: Type one, a cheap store bought kind which is given as a courtesy goes to all the men in their life. Type two is fancier or sometimes even ‘homemade chocolate’ (I call BS on that Wikipedia) which is given to the men they are interested in. That’s it.
So what about the men? What do the men do? Well, one month later, on March 14th, is ‘White Day,’ where it’s the guys turn to give chocolate back to the women who gave it to them. Honestly this sounds like more bologna. A month goes by and you’re giving a piece of damn chocolate back to the girl? Even Footloose seems less prude than this.
What if you’re a sad mess who got nothing? Well, luckily Korea has a day for you too! Actually, they have a made up holiday every month for couples and have attached meaningless significance (incredible oxymoron right there) to each:
- April 14th – Black Day, where all the losers who got no love on Valentine’s Day dress in black to wallow in their self pity and enjoy each others’ miserable company.
- May 14th – Rose Day, couples are supposed to give each other roses.
- June 14th – Kiss Day, couples kiss each other to confirm there love. All kisses on other days throughout the year are hereby insignificant?
- July 14th – Silver Day, couples exchange silver jewelry, usually rings, to confirm their love
- August 14th – Green Day, a mockery of the debauchery which occurs on St. Patrick’s Day. Couples wear green. Lot’s of Soju is sold today because it comes in green bottles. No Irish people are around disgracing themselves. Very sad.
- September 14th – Photo/Music Day, couples give each other CDs to confirm their love. They also take pictures with each other and go out to the Noraebang’s (singing/karaoke rooms). What bull, Koreans do this every weekend.
- October 14th - Wine Day, couples drink wine together.
- November 14th – Movie Day, couples see a movie together. Is this getting repetitive?
- December 14th – Hug Day, couples hug each other then break up. Actually they just hug each other to express their love and show that they are providing warmth to each other as the cold winter approaches.
- January 14th – Diary Day, couples give each other diary’s so they can write about all the boring holiday experiences they have in the year ahead.
These are all unofficial holidays that are designed to increase consumerism. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also Pepero Day on November 11th which I've talked about before.
You water down something enough and the significance is lost. I reckon the amount of money spent on Valentine’s Day in America blows away the amount of money Korean consumers spend on these holidays. No contest.
So yeah, Valentine’s Day is totally lame here. No money is wasted on unnecessary gifts, no grief for the lonely and heartbroken, no jealousy, no fights about not going to great lengths to make the day special, etc. Come to think of it…it’s excellent. Good job Korea.