Pepero Day — Korean Singles Awareness Day

Pepero (빼빼로) is a cookie stick, dipped in chocolates syrup, manufactured by the Lotte company in South Korea:

Pepero (빼빼로)

Pepero Day is an observance in South Korea similar to Valentine’s Day. It is named after Pepero and held on November 11th, because the date “11/11” resembles four sticks of Pepero.

My informant spent her childhood in Korea and moved to Irvine, California upon her entrance into high school. Irvine as a city has a significant Korean population–as such, Korean and other Asian-American students at her high school celebrated Pepero Day every year. However, though it is unclear whether this is a regional or a Korean-American variation, Pepero Day at her high school focused more on people who were single than couples, because they saw the Pepero sticks as symbolizing people standing upright, on their own, without need for another person. This could be because of the nature of her high school, which, while ranked in the top ten of the best high schools in America, with its ultra-high SAT scores and proliferation of AP classes, was apparently sadly lacking (according to her) in the area of romance and relationships. “People were always too busy to date,” She said. “They were married to their grades, basically, and any other kind of relationship was a sort of cheating because it might bring their grades down.”

This was, obviously, not the case for the entire school, and she may have been exaggerating; however, it is clear that her Korean and other Asian-American friends had somehow shifted this day to reflect their own plight, making it a joke about their studiousness by labeling it a kind of “Singles Awareness Day.” Traditionally, my informant said, in Korea, the holiday is observed by young people and couples, who exchange Pepero sticks and other romantic gifts. At her school, people walked around with boxes of Pepero, handing them out to their friends and saying things like, “Better luck next year!” or “Happy Singles Day!” Oftentimes, people who were in relationships were denied Pepero sticks, and jokingly told, “You’re in a couple, you don’t need a Pepero for companionship!”