Black Day: South Korea's Anti-Valentine's Day Where Singles Gather In Black And Eat Together

By Jacob Shelton

(Getty Images)

Are you single and tired of the empty calories, cartoon hearts, and permanent glitter that bombard your senses every Valentine's Day? Get ready for your new favorite holiday: Black Day. South Korea's anti–Valentine's Day is the noodle-filled, monochromatic day of the unloved (or at least uncoupled) that you need in your life.

Valentine's Day In South Korea

Valentine's Day became a thing in South Korea in the late 1950s following Pacific's post–World War II reconstruction, but they celebrate it a little differently. Instead of couples exchanging gifts, women shower only the men in presents, and thanks to a stroke of brilliance on the part of a Japanese sweets business in 1978, men return the favor exactly one month later on "White Day." At some point, those of both genders without love in their lives got fed up and created Black Day on April 14, a day to dress all in black and eat black food with your similarly black-hearted friends. As one woman lamented in 2008:

I had a miserable time on Valentine’s Day, felt even lonelier on White Day, and now I’m crying over a bowl of black noodles. Things better be different next year.
Not everyone takes the festivities so deeply to heart, though. Another woman explained in 2019:

It’s not a serious thing. You just get a chance to gather with your friends and just eat and enjoy and celebrate the time.

(KFoodaddict/WIkimedia Commons)

Black Day Traditions

Any black food can get the party started, but just as chocolate is a Valentine's Day must-have, the traditionally meal of Black Day is jajangmyeon, a Korean noodle dish that's topped with a thick sauce made from a sweet and savory black soy bean paste, accompanied by endless pots of black coffee.

Although it was originally a Chinese recipe, these noodles have become a staple comfort food in Korea. It's eaten year-round, but it's especially popular on April 14 thanks to its sludgy black sauce, which matches the emotional disposition of its diners. In fact, jajangmyeon eating contests are a common Black Day activity.

(YouTube)

The Evolution Of Black Day

What if you don't want to spend your day eating noodles alone? Matchmaking services are rebranding Black Day as an opportunity to find someone to shop for next year. One company even created a Black Day event where singles waiting in line to see a movie can take part in a speed-eating contest. As one employee explained: 

It is depressing enough going to the movies by yourself. We just wanted to spread a little joy to the ‘with-outs.'

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Jacob Shelton

Writer

Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.