While North Americans will spend November 11 reflecting on the atrocities of war and the lives needlessly sacrificed in its wake, residents of South Korea have a much different tradition: exchanging specific brand named candy.
“Pepero Day” is an observed holiday based around Korea’s national knock-off of the inescapably popular Japanese candy, Pocky. It was apparently started by a group of middle school girls in the port city of Busan in 1994, each vowing to one day grow tall and thin, like a stick of Pepero. While some may find this story dubious and insist that the entire holiday is a corporate construction, the type of memetic brand worship that exists in Korea makes it much more likely than you think. Couples and young people take great strides in continuing the tradition in the same vain as Valentine’s Day.
11/11 was chosen as the day of celebration for the inspired reason that this particular date looks like four pieces of Pepero. What’s sad is that Koreans are probably more engaged with this than most of us are with Remembrance Day and Veteran’s Day.