Valentine’s Day is celebrated a little differently in Japan. It is traditionally divided into two holidays, Valentine’s Day and White Day.
February 14th is still called Valentine’s Day but women are expected to give gifts to their sweethearts and their male aquaintances. Valentine’s is seen as a holiday when women can express their emotions through gifts, which are usually chocolates. Giri-choco are chocolates given to male friends, colleagues, bosses, and family. Giri in Japanese means ‘courtesy’ and these chocolates are handed out so everyone is included in the season’s festivities. Giri-choco are typically purchased where as the hon-mei or ‘chocolates of love’ for husbands,lovers, and boyfriends are typically handmade. It is not considered ‘true love’ if women buy chocolates for their sweethearts.
After all the chocolate giving of Valentine’s Day is over women then have White Day on March 14th to look forward to and on this day men are expected to return the gifts given to them on Valentine’s Day. The term sanbai gaeshi or ‘triple the return’, is often cited as the rule for giving gifts on this holiday. Often white chocolate, jewelry, lingerie, and marshmallows are given as gifts. White Day was first celebrated in 1978. It was started by the National Confectionery Industry Association as an “answer day” to Valentine’s Day on the grounds that men should pay back the women who gave them chocolate.
Seems like the United States isn’t the only country capitalizing on holidays!
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