Thursday, March 19, 2009

White Day and Interesting Cultural Beliefs

As if one wasn't enough, there are three Valentine's Days in Seoul.

1) February 14th : Valentine's Day
Similar to what we know and love, but with a twist! Instead of being a day for men to romance women, in Korea, its the women who buy chocolate and presents for the men!

2) March 14th: White Day
Valentine's Day, in reverse. One month later Korean men must answer for what they received from their sweethearts one month previously. It is generally accepted that the man's gift will cost approximately 2 to 3 times more than the Valentine's gift he received from his lady.

3) April 14th: Black Day
Let's not forget all the single ladies! (and gentlemen) Black Day in Korea is a day to celebrate singleness together with other single people. I think its a little ironic that its black day, because black seems like a depressing colour for what for many people is a depressing situation, but I'm just reporting the facts. On black day single people get together and eat Jajangmyeon, noodles with black bean sauce.

As I mentioned to you before Randy and I switched up Valentine's Day and White Day this year, and neither of will celebrate Black Day (hopefully!), but I thought that you might like to hear about some of the interesting cultural things that I've learned here.

Other interesting cultural beliefs here include:

  1. Personality is affected by your blood type. Here is a quick chart:
    Type A
    Best traits
    Earnest, creative, sensible
    Worst traits
    Fastidious, overearnest
    Type B
    Best traits
    Wild, active, doer
    Worst traits
    Selfish, irresponsible
    Type AB
    Best traits
    Cool, controlled, rational
    Worst traits
    Critical, indecisive
    Type O
    Best traits
    Agreeable, sociable, optimistic
    Worst traits
    Vain, rude
  2. Fan Death: A Korean belief that if you leave your fan on overnight with the windows close that you will most certainly die. I think they believe that without new air to circulate that your fan will suck away all your oxygen and you won't be able to breathe. You'd think this one would be a myth by now, but many Koreans are shocked or upset if you tell them you don't believe this one.
  3. Red Names: This one is more of a myth now like walking under a ladder or crossing a black cat, but just like we don't particularly like doing those things even though we know they are not real, Koreans will be very unhappy with you if you write your name, or theirs in red ink. This will also most surely cause your death. I made a few small children cry without knowing why when I got here first through writing their names on the board in red marker, or on their work in red pen. It's scary stuff. Consider yourself warned.
  4. The 4th floor. Doesn't exist in many Korean buildings, just as the 13th doesn't in some North American buildings. My building has a 4th floor, but I have been in many buildings that in the elevator you see, 1, 2, 3, F, 5, 6 etc. Amazing! They have no qualms with 13 in general though, or even Friday 13th!

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