Like everywhere else, each country has common holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s Day or Valentine’s Day. But you can also discover that many other festivals are celebrated throughout the year. In South Korea, you probably know the festival of 설날 (Seollal) and 추석 (Chuseok) which correspond to the Lunar New Year and the harvest festival. These are important holidays for Koreans, since they all gather as a family and eat traditional dishes that are often prepared for hours.
But today, I’m going to introduce you not to the official holidays but rather to the holidays that are less known and that we sometimes forget.
Valentine’s Day (바렌타인 데이: 02/14)
Of course, for Valentine’s Day is a global holiday, but in South Korea it is celebrated differently. Indeed, in general, during Valentine’s Day, lovers both give each other gifts (flowers, chocolates, etc.) to show their mutual love, or else spend time together. But in South Korea, it is the woman who must offer gifts to her man to show him her love. I was very surprised the first time I celebrated Valentine’s Day in South Korea. I said to myself: “But why is it the wife to give presents on this day?” and “When do men give to women?” but my boyfriend at the time explained to me that there was another day for men.
The Samgyeopsal Feast (삼겹살데이: 03/03)
What is 삼겹살? for those who have already been to South Korea, you may have eaten the grilled pork belly barbecue, it’s called 삼겹살. This party is purely commercial. Indeed, this day was chosen by the meat industry in South Korea, since 삼 (Sat) means 3. During this day, you can benefit from 삼겹살 in promotion.
White Day (화이트 데이: 03/14)
화이트 데이 is the famous day when men respond to the love their wives have shown them on Valentine’s Day. Indeed, on this day, men buy sweets to prove their love for their beloved. Both spend time together as is also the case for Valentine’s Day.
The Black Day (블랙 데이: 04/14)
Because single people also have the right to have a party, this day is dedicated to them. During 블랙 데이, we usually eat 자짱면 (jajangmyeon). these are noodles mixed with dark soy sauce paste as well as different vegetables. So why eat 자짱면 on black day? Well quite simply because the black sauce is reminiscent of a burnt heart, that is to say the fact of being desperate not to find your soul mate… I must admit that I don’t know anyone who would like to celebrate their celibacy in this way ^^ But if your friends are also single, celebrating it with several people makes the atmosphere more jovial!
Children’s Day (어린이날: 05/05)
This party is just for kids! isn’t that awesome? Who would not dream of living a day where “almost” everything is allowed. Well in South Korea, it is possible. In general, parents give gifts to their children and take them to the amusement park. It’s a bit like having a second birthday. I am sure that many children in France would like this holiday to be celebrated as well.
Parent’s Day (어버이날: 05/08)
It’s not just the children who have the right to have a party, the parents too. Three days after Children’s Day comes Parents’ Day. Since there is no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, children give gifts to their parents. Often, during this holiday, children offer carnations as a flower. These flowers represent love and therefore the love of the child towards his parents. You can also offer money. Respect for the family, but especially for parents in South Korea, is one of the most important values. This holiday allows you to show your respect, your love and to thank your parents.
The Rose Festival (로즈 데이: 05/14)
What is the Rose Festival? This celebration is based on a story that tells that an American, to show his love to his beloved, bought all the roses from a florist’s shop. This holiday is not celebrated in the United States but in South Korea. To tell the truth, we don’t know exactly when this day became a party. On this day, we give roses to the people we love. Each rose color has a specific meaning:
– Red roses : burning love
– Orange roses : shyness, first love
– Pink Roses : Oath of Love
– White roses: innocence, respect
– Blue roses : unobtainable love
– Yellow roses : jealousy, farewell
Teacher’s Day (스승의 날/ 교사의 날: 05/15)
Teachers can also receive gifts from their students during this holiday. I have a friend, who with his class, organized a party for their teachers in which each student had made a small speech. Then they shared a cake and listened to music. It is not in France that we could attend this kind of event… ^^ But from time to time showing gratitude towards our teachers is a good thing especially when we know that it is not is not easy every day.
The Party for Married Couples (부부의 날: 05/21)
This celebration allows the couple to refocus on themselves, and to become aware of the importance of building a harmonious family in a healthy environment. Why did you choose the date of the 21st and well to show that 2 people are only 1 when they get married. The bride and groom can thus take a little more time for themselves.
Pepero day (빼빼로 데이: 11/11)
This day is very famous among all the other holidays. 빼빼로 are small cakes like mikados in France and like Pocky in Japan. They are sold almost everywhere and in all colors and all tastes (almonds, oreo, strawberry…). These 빼빼로 are offered to the people you love like friends, family, boyfriends/girlfriends, teachers… Once you start eating them, you can’t stop ^^ Beware of those who are greedy! !!
Most of these festivals are celebrated but others are forgotten. They are very often linked to feelings of recognition, love and respect. They are mainly for commercial purposes but still remain rooted in Korean culture.