Happy Unofficial Holidays

Jardín Kim

Lead Korean Writer

I went to the market and pork belly was on sale. Packs of sliced pork belly were piled high like a mountain, and knowing that it’ll surely come apart soon like a sand castle, so I, too, elbowed through the crowd to grab a pack. Then I returned home and brewed in deep buyer’s remorse. It’s been 27 years since I grilled pork belly at home. Grease splatter everywhere had made me swear that I’d never do it again. Why did I buy this? What was I thinking? To distract myself from worries, I logged online and learned why pork belly was on sale. Today is March 3rd, and in Korea, that is Pork Belly Day.

Pork Belly Day was established in 2003 to support pig farmers devastated by viral swine disease. Today, it serves as a fun excuse to eat more pork belly, which most of us already enjoy on a regular basis. Traditionally, March 3rd on the lunar calendar marks Samjinnal, the double third day in spring when swallows that have migrated south return. In Korea, there are many unofficial celebratory days in addition to the Pork Belly Day: November 11th is Pepero Day, when you gift chocolate-dipped Pepero cookie sticks that resemble the numeral 1 to your significant other or family members. The snack maker claims that the tradition started with teen girls in Yeongnam district in 1990’s. Whether or not that’s true, it certainly is convenient for them that November 11th accounts for more than 50 percent of Pepero's annual sales. I’ve never received Pepero in my life, but that’s okay. I don’t really care for it. Humph. Cookie sticks and stones will never hurt me!

Everyone knows that February 14th is Valentine’s Day. What might not be known to those outside of Asia is the existence of White Day. In Korea, women give chocolate to men on Valentine’s Day and men give candy to women on White Day, which is celebrated one month after Valentine’s Day on March 14th (that’s too bad, because I much prefer chocolate). These days, Valentine’s Day has evolved to be a day when couples exchange expensive gifts. Last month, I remember being surprised at seeing a hotel suite room and champagne gift package. Oh this is how young people celebrate Valentine's Day these days. Humph. Suite rooms can never hurt me!
@travel oriented, https://www.flickr.com/photos/traveloriented/10529376544/
Romantic celebrations continue on the 14th of other months in Korea, as non-Koreans might not be aware. April 14th is Black Day, when singles left in the dark during Valentine’s Day and White Day come out to eat jjajangmyeon noodles in black bean sauce. May 14th is Rose Day when you give roses to your significant other. June 14th is Kiss Day, when you kiss that person (most likely but not necessarily). The pattern continues all the way to December. Black Day is the only one I’m used to celebrating, but maybe I’ll add one more unofficial holiday this year. October 14th, Wine Day, is a good candidate. I’ll be wild and have a glass of wine instead of my usual beer or soju.

Translator: Culture Flipper English Team
Original Content in Korean: cultureflipper.com/blog/happy-unofficial-holidays-ko
Japanese Translation: cultureflipper.com/blog/happy-unofficial-holidays-ja