I arrived in Korea at the beginning of March, so Valentine’s Day had already long been and gone. Much to my surprise, on March 14th, I was greeted with its Korean sequel: White Day.
Despite only being having been in the country (and for that matter teaching) for a few days, a number of the children in my classes had brought me gifts, mainly sweets and chocolates with white wrappers, but also in one case, a bunch of flowers. What was going on here?
My principal explained that it was White Day. This was traditionally a day of love and romance, rather like Valentine’s Day, but solely dedicated to women. In Korea, Valentine’s Day is reserved for honouring men, so this is when wives / girlfriends buy their husbands / boyfriends a gift. Then a month later, the men reciprocate by treating their sweethearts on White Day.
Obviously, the day is not solely for couples. It seems that it’s also a chance to show respect, friendship or love to any woman in your life. I was really honoured to receive presents from the kids, and touched by their kindness.
In fact, throughout the entire year that I spent in Korea, I found the children that I taught to be very thoughtful. They were polite, very conscious of sharing and keen to help out. They would often give me snacks, stickers etc. for no reason at all, and offer to help me tidy up or clean. It seemed that on White Day, their parents had loaded them with enough goodies to be able to give something to each of their female teachers, being sure not to leave anyone out.
I saw so many women walking around with teddy bears, flowers or huge boxes of food on White Day. Restaurants around Chuncheon were also packed out, which confirmed that this really is as big a deal to Koreans as Valentine’s.
Cynics will be quick to pass White Day off as yet another marketing ploy, and singletons may instantly snub the corniness of it. But whatever your relationship status, why not take an extra day to celebrate those who are special to you, Korean-stylee!
Happy White Day!
Note: If you’re still not buying it, don’t despair, Black Day is coming up in April. Details to follow…