South Korea is a land where new fads and trends easily catch fire and spread overnight. The younger generations love anything cute or funny, and quirky unofficial holidays are all the rage. In addition to the many official holidays such as Buddha’s Birthday and Lunar New Year, young Koreans also celebrate at least one newer ‘off the calendar’ day a month.
Probably the most well-known unofficial occasion, Pepero Day on November 11th is sweet proof that all you need to create a holiday in Korea is a cookie stick and the number 1.
Believed to have been started in the coastal city of Busan by a group of middle school girls in 1994, this now popular holiday prompts lovers, students and co-workers to exchange boxes of the thin cookie stick treat.
They come in a variety of flavours including chocolate, strawberry and ‘nude’ among others.
Although the company that makes Pepero (Lotte) swears that they had nothing to do with the invention of the holiday, they certainly did not get the short end of the stick and were quick to take advantage of the marketing opportunities that the school girls opened up for them. Not surprisingly, two thirds of their annual sales are purchased during the month of November. Many bakeries cash in on this day as well, making larger imitation versions of the sweet snack.
The eleventh day of the eleventh month was chosen specifically because when written numerically, it looks like four sticks of Pepero (11.11).
If you happen to have a sweet tooth like I do, and if you happen to be an English teacher like I was, you will surely not complain about this holiday, no matter how contrived it might seem. Any day where you receive boxes upon boxes of cookies on your desk is a good day if you ask me.
HAPPY PEPERO DAY!