March 2011 Archives
A lot of things are different when you compare Japan to the USA, well most things actually. But one thing the two countries have in common is they both celebrate Valentine's day- except Japan's version is just a little bit special. On February 14th, in the land of the rising sun, many women, and only women, give out chocolate and gifts to men. They give simple chocolate gifts to their co-workers, nicer and more personal chocolate gifts to their friends and relatives, and they save the best chocolate for their boyfriends or husbands. It is a hierarchy of gift-giving, where everyone is included, from the obligatory gifts to colleagues, to the extra special gifts for that super special someone.
And the men, you ask? Men don't give gifts on Valentine's day. One month later, on March 14th, the men reciprocate their gifts on a day called White Day. There is a saying that goes hand in hand with this day: 'Sanbai Gaeshi,' which means "Triple the return." In other words, men are expected to give much nicer gifts than the ones they received.
Now while women commonly give Giri Choco (obligatory chocolate) to coworkers, and Honmei Choco (chocolate for romantic partners) to their boyfriends on Valentives Day, men commonly give white lingerie, white chocolate, cookies, or even jewelry to their special ladies. It is also common for the men to make the gifts they give their girlfriends or wives; mostly as a way of saying you're my only girl, but also maybe as a way of saving a little yen!
White Day began in the 70's, and was originally called Marshmallow day, because initially only marshmallows were given. It changed soon after, and many other gifts were exchanged. Most people claim it was created to give men a chance to return the favors for the gifts they received on Valentine's day, others say it was just a day started by candy companies to boost sales. Either way, it's a fun day to celebrate with that special someone.