The 14th day of each month to dedicated to celebrating relationships with themed dates, gifts, and foods.
Most of us can likely only name a single romantic holiday: Valentine’s Day. Many young people in South Korea, however, are so passionate about dating culture that they’ve created love-themed holidays for the 14th of every month, plus a few bonus celebrations for good measure.
In South Korea, women shower their partners with gifts on Valentine’s Day (February 14th), while the men reciprocate the following month on White Day (March 14th). The rest of the year consists of monthly themed occasions like Green Day, for sipping soju outdoors, and Music Day, for singing noraebang (karaoke) together. There’s even an official day dedicated to singles looking to drown their sorrows in noodles, which some have turned into an empowering day of independence.
This calendar year, couples in South Korea can look forward to these 14 less-than-typical romantic holidays.
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Diary Day: January 14
The New Year presents an opportunity to reboot a relationship. On Diary Day, partners buy each other yearly planners so that they can keep track of all their upcoming date nights, and write down fond memories in the blank journal pages. Stationery stores are popular in South Korea, making participation in this holiday relatively easy. Head to a Line Friends or Artbox shop, and choose a design and color that best represent your loved one’s personality.
Valentine’s Day: February 14
It’s common in Asia for women to give men gifts on Valentine’s Day, a bit of a change from the ritual in the West. On February 14, South Korean women tend to express affection by presenting a box of fine chocolates. At department stores and supermarkets, you’ll find towering displays of sweets in colorful heart-shaped boxes. Some put in extra effort by making their own treats or by custom-ordering artisan chocolates marked with their lover’s initials.
White Day: March 14
A month later and it’s time for the men to treat their partners. The holiday, known as White Day, originated in Japan in the late 1970s and is now celebrated throughout East Asia. The name is said to represent the purity of love and encourages men to splurge on white chocolates, marshmallows, or lingerie. Women who gave generously in February are often richly rewarded this holiday, as there’s an unspoken rule that men should purchase something worth about three times what they received.
Black Day: April 14
Out of all of South Korea’s monthly romantic holidays, only Black Day is set aside for the singles. Uncoupled friends gather to eat a bowl of jajangmyeon, or black bean paste noodles. There’s a lot of societal pressure in South Korea on being in a relationship, so many singles see April 14 as a gloomy reminder. Others, however, are proud of being independent and consider Black Day a time to honor themselves. As such, you might encounter a group of Goths in black clothing and nail polish toasting to freedom with mugs of dark coffee.
Rose Day/Yellow Day: May 14
South Korea’s romantic holidays tend to have themes that correspond with the seasons. When May flowers are in full bloom, couples put on yellow clothing and exchange bouquets of roses, preferably yellow ones. They’ll often dress up in matching outfits, which is another whimsical way of showing that they are a pair. On May 14, singles can partake in the holiday by eating Korean yellow curry, in an attempt to spice up their love lives.
Kiss Day: June 14
Public displays of affection are discouraged in Korean culture, but Kiss Day gives partners an excuse to break free from that social norm. On June 14, couples can go out to summer events, such as a pool party, and lock lips without drawing stares. Companies have also capitalized on Kiss Day by selling limited edition items, such as K-beauty lipsticks and breath mints.
Silver Day: July 14
As the relationship grows more serious, it’s time to exchange silver promise rings that signify the couple’s commitment. Visit a Korean jewelry store together, and try on paired rings in decorated boxes. Often, partners engrave each other’s names inside the metallic bands. Silver Day also tends to be the occasion to meet the parents, as the culture often emphasizes family approval in all matters.
Green Day: August 14
This holiday encourages making the most of a lazy summer day by drinking together outdoors. On August 14, couples might meet up for a stroll in Seoul Forest, followed by a picnic under the trees with a bottle of soju. In Korea, this clear distilled alcohol always comes in green bottles of the same size and shape. This is because, in 2009, all soju makers agreed to use these containers for the ease of recycling, adding yet another “green” element to the day.
Photo Day/Music Day: September 14
September is dedicated to two of the favorite pastimes of many young people in South Korea: photo-taking and singing. On this holiday, couples cram into photo sticker booths to take cute snapshots. Some book a package at a portrait studio that provides professional hair and makeup, and rent outfits such as floor-length hanboks. After photos have been taken, the lovers can then browse special K-pop releases at a music store and belt out duets in a private noraebang (Korean karaoke room).
Wine Day: October 14
On October 14, cheers your relationship with a bottle of wine. Though Koreans have not historically drunk wine made from grapes, the beverage has become more popular in recent decades, as international cuisine and imports have become more available. Couples can also share a bottle of local pink-colored wine made from fruits, such as raspberry or omija (magnolia berry).
Pepero Day: November 11
On November 11, lovers and friends can demonstrate affection by exchanging Korean Pepero snacks. These long cookie sticks are a popular packaged treat and come dipped in chocolate and other flavors. This occasion began in the 1980s as a trend among students. By exchanging Pepero sticks, they expressed the wish: “I hope you’ll become taller and skinnier.” Some eat a Pepero stick on November 11 at precisely 11:11 a.m. or p.m. in the hope that this will boost their chances of the wish coming true.
Movie Day: November 14
Movie Day gives couples a reason to watch a romantic film in a theater, however, many prefer to rent out a private screening room for a movie of their choosing. Couples can choose a DVD from the extensive library, and snuggle up to watch it on the big screen. The most luxurious DVD-bangs have reclining seats, plush cushions, and a section of snacks–all the ingredients for a memorable date night.
Hug Day/Sock Day: December 14
A warm embrace is especially welcome in chilly December. On Hug Day, couples squeeze each other tight, while singles often debate online about which Korean celebrity is most cuddle-worthy. Since hugs are free, brands have encouraged couples to exchange pairs of socks as another way of staying toasty. Many boutiques offer themed legwear with cute winter designs, such as polar bears peeking out from the top of the band.
For South Korea’s diehard romantics, having one relationship-themed event per month isn’t enough. Many couples also celebrate the 100-day mark from when they started dating, with a special night out and gifts. A couple might commemorate their “100 Days” anniversary with a fancy dinner and a symbolic gesture like attaching a “love lock” to Namsan Tower in Seoul. The most hardcore pairs repeat this ritual on their 200th, 300th, 500th, and 1,000th-day dating anniversaries!