Yesterday, someone said, “Wait Monica,” while turning back and getting something. He returned with an outstretched arm, nudging an object in my rested hands. “For you,” he smiled. I looked down from his face to my hands. And saw a box of Pepero.
I didn’t know what to say at first. I barely know him and even though I know that some people just give a gift to random people, I still feel shy about it. Another friend saw what I was holding and freed me from my thoughts. “In Korea, tomorrow is an important day,” he began lecturing but I cut him off with an I-know response. Of course, I know about Pepero Day. A commercial festival made popular by Lotte’s Pepero, a cookie snack dipped in chocolate syrup and sometimes nuts, the day has been signified as a sort of Valentine’s Day when instead of giving out chocolate, it is Pepero box.
But I have forgotten the date.
Today, November 11, Korea celebrates Peppero Day and merchants were being creative in able to attract customers to buy more boxes. Packaging is as important as the biscuits themselves, and the vendors definitely worked that for their advantage. What a marketing strategy!
For a bit of history, November 11 is always celebrated as Pepero Day as the date 11/11 looks like four (if you don’t count the division sign) Pepero sticks. It was believed to be started somewhere in Busan around 1994.
In younger couples, a box of Pepero in the Day is important. Much like remembering one’s anniversary, a missed Pepero will give a signal to a woman who did not receive any that her man does not return her affections. However, on a happy note, receiving Pepero can also be a contest. The popularity of young girls is determined by the number of boxes they’ll receive.
Unfortunately, my Korean ex never gave me one. For the two celebrations which passed during our relationship he was always in Korea so I understand it. But still.
So I always feel happy whenever someone gives me a box. I feel appreciated and noticed. I know there’s nothing romantic between me and the givers of the gifts, but it still feels nice to be remembered. That’s the word: remembered. And I hope I will always be.
Enough sentimentality. Now for you guys, have any of you heard of this Pepero Day? Do you have a Korean friend, classmate, colleague, crush, boyfriend, or husband? How did he give it to you?
For others, do you have a similar festival in your country or place? Not like those red calendar days, but those which are just made up? I’d love to hear your thoughts!