Q. My husband says now that we’re living in the Pacific theater, he’s off the hook for Valentine’s Day. Um, what’s up with that?
A. How touching that he’s so willing to participate in your host nation’s culture. Valentine’s Day is very much celebrated in Japan and South Korea, but with a twist—one that makes your husband partly correct about being off the hook for gift-giving. In those countries, women give men gifts, usually chocolate, for Valentine’s Day, and men aren’t expected to reciprocate … right away.
But then there’s the little matter of White Day, on March 14. On White Day, it’s the man’s turn to do the gifting — it can be candy, flowers, pretty much anything.
That’s the end of the story for Japan, but South Korea adds a few extra chapters. Thanks to wily marketing from industries that stand to profit, South Korea has things like Diary Day on Jan. 14, when couples buy calendars and mark all their lovey schmoopy anniversaries and such, and the lesser-known Green Day on Aug. 14, when couples wear green, go see some nature and drink cheap booze that comes in green bottles.
Lest the lovebirds have all the fun, however, South Korea also has Black Day (April 14), when singles eat black food to proclaim their loneliness, and Yellow Day-Rose Day (May 15), when singles dress in yellow and gather to eat curry.
So gentlemen, if you still haven’t snagged the perfect Valentine’s gift for your lady, you could just give it up and claim you’re waiting for White Day. But be warned: If she prefers the American tradition, you may end up sleeping on the couch for the month in between.