Hello Senpai readers!
For the last few months we have featured articles here on the blog about how the holidays portrayed in anime hold up against holidays in real Japan. We’ve covered topics like “Does anyone in Japan really celebrate Christmas?” as well as “What is White Day, and what does it have to do with Valentine’s Day?”
Well, having happily discussed some realities of a Japanese Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s (and yes- White Day) with our readers, we’re ending this series of articles somewhere a little different.
In this final part of a 5 part series we’re looking into a South Korean April holiday which was created as an answer to Valentine’s Day and White Day. (If you would like to catch up with part one: Christmas in Japan, please click here, part two: New Year’s in Japan then please click here, part three: Valentine’s Day then please click here, or part four: White Day then please click here.)
First, a little background from our previous articles— in Japan usually only girls give out candy on Valentine’s Day. Boys are given the chance to return the favor a month later, on White Day, and usually reciprocate with gifts, not just chocolate.
What we did not cover in the last two articles is this: the Japanese style of celebrating the holiday is not limited only to Japan. Some other countries, including South Korea, also celebrate the Valentine’s tradition in this twofold manner.
Returning to the Japanese Valentine’s and White Day traditions, there are different types of chocolate and gifts, and the distinction between them must be carefully noted to avoid a social mistake.
The girl may only be giving the chocolate or gift to be polite, or it may be a sign of true affection, and the type and quality of the chocolate or gift she gives is usually a great indicator of whether she really likes the boy or is only being kind.
Similarly, when a boy reciprocates the gift on White Day (while oftentimes they return something bigger or more expensive) how much so is determined by what sort of gift he got in the first place. (For example, he would give a different type of gift to his girlfriend who gave him an affectionate gift, from the type he would give his classmate who gave him something to be polite or kind.)
But, what if no one gave you anything at all? No love on Valentine’s Day? No return for your affection at White day? Well, never fear— apparently you’re not alone at all.
Whether you were a boy who received nothing (or perhaps only “polite” chocolate) on Valentine’s Day, or if you were a girl who received nothing in return (or only polite gifts in return) on White Day— either of those cases meaning you don’t have a special someone to reciprocate your love — South Korea has a holiday for you.
The tradition called is Black Day. Held on April 14th, two months after Valentine’s and one month after White Day, Black Day is for those who were disappointed in love on the previous two holidays.
It’s a day where people “celebrate being single” by getting together with other single people and empathizing with each other while eating “Jajangmyeon” (a highly popular noodle dish that has a thick black bean sauce).
It’s a good time to get out all the bad feelings about the more romantic holidays not going as you dreamed, and in company that will understand precisely how you feel, or to simply hang out with friends. For that reason, the company a person has for this day would likely be other single friends, or people at the restaurants where the participants are eating. Furthering the theme, some people choose to wear black or other dark clothes on this day, and oftentimes black coffee is also popular.
The holiday has some following, but is not yet heavily commercialized— yet.
As has already happened with the two more romantic holidays, marketers are attempting to find a foothold in Black Day, and find some way to be associated with the singles “celebration” (or mourning depending on who you ask).
Some marketers attempt to be very directly associated (such as a matchmaking service setting up speed dating events for this day) and others are more roundabout in their involvement (such as the online movie ticket seller who sponsored a black noodles speed-eating competition open for people who bought single tickets to the latest big movies). I guess the idea is that even if someone isn’t the type to be happy about being single, there might be a perk in there somewhere.
To see how some others are celebrating Black Day on the internet (or commiserate with them!) I’d recommend you look for the Black Day tags on your favorite social media sites, like twitter or tumblr. ^_^ For a recipe for the traditional dish, Jajangmyeon- this looks pretty good.
Regardless of whether or not you find yourself celebrating Black Day today, we offer our best wishes to you, and hope that this and every other holiday give you a little something to smile about!