Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day in Japan

Since Valentine's Day is tomorrow and I might not update for the next 4759143years, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Chinese New Year in advance! :)

Also, a short article on the Japanese traditions during Valentine's Day and White Day... Read on!

On Saint Valentine's Day, the 14th of February, Japanese women give men chocolates, as well as other gifts.  These gifts of chocolate are divided into two types: giri choko (obligatory chocolate) and honmei choko (chocolate for the man the woman is serious about). Giri choco is given by women to their superiors at work as well as to other male co-workers. It is not unusual for a woman to buy 20 to 30 boxes of this type of chocolate for distribution around the office as well as to her family members and male friends. Giri choko is a symbol of goodwill and appreciation, not love.

Needless to say, the approach of Valentine's Day is something that department stores and shops look forward to and promote with zeal because of its potential for increased sales. Large displays featuring chocolate usually with heart-shaped displays start to grace the floors of department stores from mid-January or so.
A woman will normally purchase boxes of giri choko in the several hundred yen range and may purchase an expensive box of honmei choko and another gift such as a necktie for her "special someone". Unpopular co-workers receive only "ultra-obligatory" chō-giri choko, or cheap chocolate. Friends, especially girls, may exchange chocolate referred to as tomo-choko.

Exactly a month later, on March the 14th, is White Day. White Day was created by the Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association as a "reply day", where men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day. On White Day, men who were lucky enough to receive gifts of chocolate have the chance to return the favor by giving the women who gave them gifts of chocolate a more expensive box of chocolate or sweets (for some reason or other, these return gifts seem to be priced slightly higher than those the women purchase). Again, the stores provide plenty of reminders of the approach of this day so that even the most forgetful man cannot say that it slipped his mind. The gifts of chocolate that men buy are in white boxes (after all, it is "White Day") and come with separate shopping bags to put them in. (Wikipedia, TanuTech)

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