Be My Valentine: Love Celebrations in Korea and Japan

In many places in the world, Valentine’s Day rituals today means giving love letters, cards, chocolates, gifts, hearts, and things that are red and pink.

In Asia, as especially Korea and Japan, things are no different – but since the spread of Valentine’s Day into these countries, the festival’s rituals have evolved into something a little different than those in North America.

Chocolate Box“Valentine’s Day” takes place on February 14th and marks the day that women are obligated to give chocolates to all male co-workers. This exchange is called giri-choko (obligation chocolate). Chocolates can also be given to loved ones and this type of exchange is called honmei-choko. When giving chocolates to friends on this day, the exchange is called tomo-choko (friend chocolate).

White Chocolates“White Day” is on March 14th and the opposite occurs. The roles are switched and men are then obligated to return the favour of the women who gave them chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Traditionally, men are to give women white chocolate or marshmallows, rather than milk or dark chocolate. However, lingerie and jewellery have become common gifts on this day, as well.

PeperoIn Korea, November 11th is called “Pepero Day.” Pepero is a Korean snack that is modelled after Pocky, the Japanese snack. They are thin cookie sticks covered with different flavours. The typical flavours are chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. In the past few years a slew of new flavours have come out, including: green tea, cheese, pizza, dark chocolate, chocolate with almonds, and etc. On Pepero Day, people buy boxes of Pepero to give to their loved ones: significant others, teachers, classmates, coworkers, and etc. The reason why November 11th s chosen is because the date is 11/11 which is like 4 Pepero sticks. This celebration has spread to Japan and they hold a similar “Pocky Day.”

Ever wonder about the origin of Valentine’s, read our article, “The Truth About Valentine’s Day.”

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