In American society, many single men and women find themselves crying into a half-devoured chocolate box while watching romantic comedies on Netflix during Valentine’s Day. However, in Korean society, there is actually a day dedicated to celebrating singleness: Black Day.
Korean Black Day is a celebration in Korean culture in which a month after Valentine’s Day, single men and women gather together wearing black, enjoy food and music and rejoice in their relationship status, or rather lack thereof. To jump-start Asian Pacific Islander American Month, Albion College’s International Student Union, I-Space and Intercultural Affairs members hosted a Black Day celebration at the Umbrella House on April 14.
President of International Student Union, Sandra Myint, Yangon, Burma junior, led the Black Day event. Myint was eager to share this Korean tradition with her fellow students on campus.
“Our International Student Union mission is to host an array of programs to bring international essence to Albion campus,” Myint said. “Our focus is not just on popular cultural celebrations but more on lesser known ones, such as Korean Black Day, in order that we not only fulfill our mission, but also accentuate diversity.”
Fellow International Student Union member, Georgiana Inggrid, Jakarta, Indonesia junior, was also excited about presenting Black Day to Albion’s student body.
“I don’t know any other countries that celebrate [Black Day] other than Korea; it certainly is not celebrated in my home country, Indonesia,” Inggrid said. ” That’s definitely my favorite part of being in International Student Union. We bring a very colorful plate to the table in Albion College. We bring something different, something out of this nation.”
Upon arriving at the gathering, which was open and free to all Albion College students, participants signed their name on an informal sheet, and then were given a small, square piece of paper with a letter(s) on it. The individuals were told to keep the paper, which was later used to pair one individual up with another, as every two people were given matching letters.
During this time, the couples were encouraged to get to know each other, and they were tested and awarded prizes for questions that they could answer about their partner. Games such as these are common on Black Day, as many singles venture out in hopes of meeting and mingling with other singles.
The Umbrella House also provided a variety of Korean foods, the most popular of which was the jajangmyeon, a black bean noodle dish customary in Black Day traditions. During Korean Black Day, black or dark foods such as jajangmyeon and chocolate are widely regarded.
A select few of the students at Albion, such as Kevin Rhee, Seoul, South Korea senior, have had prior experience with Black Day. Rhee spoke at the event and expressed the dos and don’ts during the holiday.
“We will normally go eat at a restaurant that serves this [black] food,” Rhee said. “We don’t really do this alone because it defeats the purpose of forming a bond. It’s really rude for couples to be wearing bright clothing in a place when people are eating food together wearing black clothing. Couples are encouraged to not have PDA [Public Displays of Affection] in the streets. It’s a Singles Awareness Day in Korea.”
Although celebrations of Black Day have grown to become more informal in Korea, and many only commemorate the holiday for sheer fun and merriment, it is still a widely celebrated holiday. Delicious food, fun with friends and mingling with other singles, Black Day is a fun-filled way to get over the dreaded 24 hours of Feb. 14.
Photo courtesy of: www.restaurant.kimchee.uk.com