November 11th is “Pepero Day” in Korea. Pepero is a type and brand of candy. It’s a long, straight cookie dipped in chocolate (or choco as the Koreans call it). Supposedly it started because a group of high school girls in Busan (Korea’s second largest city) started to exchange Pepero on November 11th because 11/11 looks like four sticks of Pepero. Thus Pepero Day became a day to give Pepero to people you like.
I suspect it’s an excuse to sell candy, and is even more flimsy than “real” holidays like Valentines Day or Halloween. At least American’s don’t call it “Hershey’s Day.” Lotte Confectionery, the candy’s maker, denies it’s just pure commercialism. That’s why they give posters to convenient stores reminding consumers to buy Pepero on November 11th, to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday, whatever that is.
Seeing how in America November 11th is Veterans Day in America, placed on this day to mark the end of World War I, I am used to it being somewhat a somber day. The frivolity of Pepero Day is totally alien to me. But humorous.
Despite the ridiculousness, it’s very popular with my school kids. They use Pepero Day as a way to show their true feelings towards people, especially teachers. Normally social interaction is tightly controlled by cultural behavior codes. Even if you don’t like someone, you still need to follow the proper etiquette. And if you do like someone, you end up treating them the same way as the people you don’t like. Pepero Day allows kids to get around the ritual forms of respect. If the kids like you, they give you Pepero.
I was flattered to get lots of Pepero. Some kids gave me just a stick, other whole boxes. Read more about Christopher’s ‘holiday’ experience…