Dear Reader, Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope today was a good one. My wife and I went out tonight for dinner in Insadong, a folk art and tourist area in downtown Seoul. We ended up eating at an unlikely place–a small Indian restaurant named "Little India" located above Insadong Street. We thought that we would eat at some out-of-the-way, forgotten Korean restaurant, figuring that all the Korean romantics celebrating Valentine’s Day would mosey over to popular, romantic restaurants where reservations are required. The Indian food at "Little India" didn’t taste quite as we expected. Then again, we really didn’t know what to expect. The nan (flatbread), samosa (crisp bread stuffed with minced vegetable), curry chicken, and lassi (yogurt drink) did not taste like the Indian cuisine we typically ate in the United States. I surmised that: 1) The Indian food we’re used to eating is Americanized; 2) Indian food at this restaurant was Koreanized; or 3) The food actually tasted like authentic Indian food from some region in India. I suspect that options one and two are the most likely culprits. Plus, we have not yet traveled to India, so we wouldn’t know whether or not the food was authentic. Nevertheless, the ambiance at "Little India" took us back to a time when we found a quaint Chinese restaurant in Luxor, Egypt and dined on Chinese food overlooking the Egyptian street. It also reminded me of a time when we dined on Thai cuisine together in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i.
If you didn’t have someone special to celebrate Valentine’s Day with this year, never fear. Do as the Koreans do. In Korea, you have 21 different occasions in which to celebrate your love for someone. Last month, Reuters published an interesting article called "South Korean Calendar Ladened with Love." The article explains how Korean companies have tried to mimick the commercial success of Valentine’s Day by dreaming up new ways for couples to express their love for one another. Here are some events in Korea dedicated to love and friendship (and money making):
- Diary Day (January 14): Buy a calendar planner and mark your special days in it.
- Valentine’s Day (February 14): Women must buy chocolate and give it to their special someone.
- White Day (March 14): Men buy chocolate (or roses) for their special someone.
- Black Day (April 14): If you do not have a special someone, eat something black such as a bowl of noodles with black sauce to commemorate your loneliness.
- Yellow Day-Rose Day (May 14): Singles gather dressed in yellow for curry and companionship. Those who find love by this day exchange roses.
- Ring Day: Couples exchange rings.
- Sock Day: Couples exchange socks (new socks, I hope).
- Music Day: Couples exchange music.
- Kiss Day: Couples exchange kisses.
- Green Day (August 14): Dress in green and walk in the woods with the one you love and drink soju, a Korean rice liquor. Note to Green Day, the American punk band–come tour in Korea on Green Day! There’s a special day just for you.
- Silver Day: Couples’ friends give them money to pay for their date, and couples exchange gifts made of silver.
- Pepero Day (November 11): Pepero is a popular day when friends give each other Pepero, a pair of sweetbread sticks dipped in chocolate. Two is to share, I suppose.
- First Snow Day: On the first evening after a snowfall, couples go on a romantic date.
So, if you’re glum about Valentine’s Day, take heart. There’s always Sock Day! Or Music Day!
Blog Note: World Adventurers passed 110,000 hits today. As always, thank you! I never imagined so many people would stop by to visit my corner of the blogosphere.