Koreans love cutesy things, candies, gift giving, and love, so it came as little surprise to me when I started seeing hearts and sweets and stuffed animals popping up everywhere. The Baskins-Robbins (another thing Koreans love: ice cream) near my apartment even has special Valentine’s flavors.
Stateside, Valentine’s Day is much more of a female centric holiday. Women expect gifts from their partners but with men, it’s more of a gray area. I’m no expert since I’ve only had a date on Valentine’s once, but I think I’ve seen enough romantic comedies to qualify my opinion.
In Korea though, men receive the gifts from women and the roles are reversed a month later on White Day, which is also observed in Japan. If a man received gifts on Valentine’s Day, he should reciprocate on March 14. Single people get their turn a month after that on April 14th, when Koreans celebrate Black Day. Single friends get together to celebrate their survival of the past two months of romantic holidays by eating jajangmyeon, or noodles with black bean sauce. I like noodles, black bean sauce, and friends, so Black Day is a holiday I can support!
Today, I asked my five year olds what their mothers gave to their fathers and they all said clothes or chocolates, and if they answered in a complete sentence, I gave them a glittery heart sticker. The twins also told me they got to go out for ice cream last night! Tom, my lone male student, told me his Valentine’s Day had “many ouches” because he fell playing with a soccer ball in his house and broke his knee cap. He’s back to school now wearing a wee cast and enjoying hopping about quite a bit.
So how did I spend my Valentine’s Day? I went out to dinner at a foreigner hang out called Gecko’s with my friend Louise, drank beer, and eavesdropped on people’s dates, of course!