Fashion & Beauty

Love, Globally

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Here in the United States, Valentine’s Day is set as February 14. In South Korea and Japan, however, Valentine’s Day—the holiday devoted to showing and sharing love—is not confined to just one day. Rather, it is  celebrated over three days in three separate months: February, March, and April. And, it’s very much for the guys as much as it is for the women. More important, there’s a yummy bowl of black bean noodles involved! Here’s another beautiful way love is celebrated globally.

 

February 14: Day of CourageMen’s Day

royce layer1This day is actually a day for the guys to be showered with gifts, whether they like it or not! Young women often present homemade gifts of chocolates and other sweets to their boyfriends or romantic interests to express their love and appreciation. In Japan, one type of chocolate is meant as a “true feeling chocolate,” reserved for boyfriends, prospective boyfriends or husbands. Generally this honmei chocolate is more expensive and higher quality than giri-choco, a courtesy or “obligation” chocolate, which is given to male coworkers or other men for whom there is no romantic attachment. The idea is homologous in South Korea. Chocolates and candy given to sweethearts, or soon-to-be boyfriends, are often handmade. Arts and craft stores stock up on DIY chocolate making kits and pretty packaging weeks before Valentine’s Day. Confectionery and convenience stores often have women lined up outside, waiting to buy boxes and sets of courtesy chocolates days leading up to V-Day.

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March 14: White Day—Ladies’ Day

royce layer 2In return for the chocolates and sweets, male counterparts are expected to repay their ladies for their courteousness or reply to the honmei chocolate with, ideally, requited love. The day was coined after a Japanese confectionery company marketed marshmallows to men in March as a way to reciprocate the Valentines’ gifts they received, therefore clearing any social debt. Popular gifts for the ladies are white chocolate, marshmallows, cookies, jewelry, or white lingerie. The rule of thumb is that the repayment gift should be at least three times the value of the Valentine’s Day gift.

 

 

 

April 14: Black DaySingle Solidarity

In South Korea, there is also a day dedicated to singles, whether by choice or not, which is celebrated over a big bowl of black bean sauce noodles, jjajang-myun. This dish, as you can imagine, is not meant to share over a date, which is why it became popular to have a big bowl all to yourself on April 14. Traditionally, those who do not receive a gift on White Day celebrate Black Day. Also, single men, who may not have received an affectionate gift for Valentine’s Day, often participate in jjajang-myun speed eating competitions. Jjaiang-myun is considered a national comfort food in South Korea; singles will gather in restaurants to playfully celebrate (or mourn) their singledom. Though it may seem depressing, Black Day is not meant to be so serious. Rather, it is a dramatic and amusing way to carry out the third act in a Valentine’s Day  series. In fact, the day has grown to include anyone who enjoys this signature nostalgic dish that generally costs less than $5.

Looking to try the black bean noodle dish? Here’s the 411:

 

 

 

 

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