Love Days in Korea

Couples in Korea have special days each month, on the 14th day, to celebrate their love for each other. Each month has its own theme, so what better way to start out the new year than with celebrating your love. lovefingerscropped

Having a love day each month might sound cumbersome or like it’s commercializing love. But honestly, most of them are simple and some don’t involve buying at all. Besides, there’s no such thing as over expressing your love for someone, right? Here’s the list.

January 14–Diary Day (calendars/daily planners or diaries are exchanged and special days are written in)
February 14–Valentine’s Day (girls give guys gifts, usually chocolates)
March 14–White Day (guys give girls gifts, see March 14 post)
April 14–Black Day (see Black Day post)
May 14–Rose Day/Yellow Day (Couples exchange roses and wear yellow on this day, while single people eat curry. If you want to attract a mate, it is apparently to wear something yellow or eat something that is yellow.)
June 14–Kiss Day (self explanatory; makes a great day for a first kiss)
July 14–Silver Day (exchange gifts of silver, like charms or couples rings)
August 14–Green Day (spend time outside while wearing green; singles can drink soju–which comes in a green bottle–on this day and lament their single status)
September 14–Photo Day (take many photos of each other and photos together)
October 14–Wine Day (self-explanatory, I think)
November 14–Movie Day/Cookie Day (take a movie with your date; give your child a cookie)
December 14–Hug Day (hugging chases away the winter blues)

So there you have it–a complete list of Korea’s love days. The most popular ones, of course, are Feb. 14, March 14, and April 14. But I think love days are a fun idea, and would be something especially fun for families to observe with younger kids. They would probably really get into the idea of celebrating a holiday every month.


Do You Know…Korea’s Unlucky Number?

Every culture has them, I suppose; numbers that are considered unlucky because of superstitions. In the U.S., the number 13 is considered unlucky.

Well, in Korea the unlucky number is 4. (Knowing this won me a kimchi noodle bowl at a Korean presentation at the library. 🙂 )

Four has been deemed unlucky in Korea because it sounds like the Chinese word for “death.” (This refers to four in Sino-Korean numbers, which is 사  and is pronounced “sah.”) Four is also considered unlucky in China and Japan as well.

So why should you know this? Well, it will help you understand why certain buildings in Korea don’t have a “fourth” floor. And it might be best to avoid groupings of things in fours, like when you’re giving gifts. Not to mention it might win you something in trivia someday.


Did You Know…How to Receive Items in Korea?

Did you know that the only polite way to give or receive anything in Korea–be it change from a purchase or a gift–is to use both hands?

Our first Korean teacher taught us this, and made us practice with an older Korean gentleman who worked at the school. The most common way is to put out both hands, palms up. But you can also put out one hand, if and only if, you place your other hand either under your elbow or on the fold of your arm. Again this technique is used across the board. If you’re making a purchase, you would hand over your money to the clerk in one of the fashions mentioned above. Or if you are giving a gift to someone, you would hold the gift in the same manner.

In this video, Simon and Martina of go over a couple of gestures that if done North American style can be rude or insulting to Koreans. Giving and receiving items is one of they go over. Check it out.

Did You Know…About Using Red Ink for Names?

So I’ve decided to add a category for cultural tidbits that don’t need much explanation. Today’s Did You Know…? is one I found out about only after I goofed on our son’s first birthday cake.  Here it is.

Did you know that it’s taboo in Korea to write someone’s name in red ink?

Some of you are probably thinking, “But red is the color ink that comes with a name chop so it can’t be taboo.” Well, both are true. Red ink is the color most used with a 도장 (dojang, name chop).

But when writing with ink, one should never write someone’s name in red since the color is associated with death and red ink is used to record a deceased person’s name in the family register.

So I learned this on the day of our son’s first birthday celebration (his “dol”).  My husband brought in the store-bought cake with Mickey Mouse decorations and “Happy Birthday” and our son’s name in red. Our friend, who grew up in Korea and was hosting our son’s dol, gasp and explained that names should never been written in red. In fact, it bothered her so much that she recommended we not send photos of the cake to Korea.

Well, it ended up that our son didn’t like eating his store-bought cake anyway, and much preferred a Korean pear, so there wasn’t a big sentimental attachment to the cake. But it’s something that’s stuck in my mind since then, especially when ordering birthday cakes.