St Valentine's Day

by Toshiaki Nishi

As St Valentine's Day draws near, you find piles and piles of chocolate boxes displayed at the entrance or a striking spot of every department store or a supermarket. Those who buy chocolate are invariably female customers. They buy chocolate as a present to their boyfriends, husbands or any male persons who have something to do with them.

Japan's version of Valentine's Day is somewhat peculiar in some points.

First, St Valentine's Day gift must be chocolate and nothing else, so they don't have to bother about what to give. That's why department stores and supermarkets lay in chocolate in large quantities.

Second, giving chocolates varies from "honmei choco" (heart-felt chocolate) to "giri-choco" (obligatory chocolate). Young women employees often hesitate whether or not to give chocolate to their chief, or high school girls waver in their judgment to give chocolate to their teachers. These are cases of what we call "giri-choco."

It is the manners of life in Japan that when you are given a present you are supposed to give back something in return. Shrewd confectionery makers who took advantage of those customs planned to set a day on which men are supposed to return a gift to the ladies they received chocolate from.

It was decided on March 14 by the candy makers' association in 1978, just a month later than the Valentine's Day, and the day was named "White Day." Obviously the makers can make a double profit out of this business practice.

Comments for St Valentine's Day

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Great info from Japan.
by: Lydia/Pepin, WI/USA

I find your information fascinating and would love to learn more. It's pretty interesting!

Valentine's Day
by: Elna Nugent, Lenox, MA

Dear Toshiaki,

I had no idea that you celebrated Valentine's Day.
Are you writing from the US or Japan or where?

Sending Valentine's cards here is also still a big deal. But I am distracted by the fact that you speak/write English so lucidly and beautifully.

I know gift giving is huge in Japan, but I think I read that it is now being downplayed.

Wonderful to hear from you. Hope you tell us more about yourself when you feel like doing so.

Blessings to you.

Gifts delight you, even if you are not the intended recepient
by: Retd. Prof. D. K. Srivastava, C-3, Janakpuri, New Delhi, India

The family living in in my neighborhood are lucky to be blessed with many gifts all through the year.

Very often the gift package is delivered at our residence. I would take the mis-delivered gifts to the rightful receipients. They would feel embarrassed for the trouble that was inflicted upon us.

Gradually we became friends, and they would often share the gifts with me ... hahaha .... giving me the joy of tasting fruits, biscuits, chocolates. God has a way of giving you friends.

Upon retiring from a Delhi University College in 2005 at the age of 62 years, I took up a part time faculty job in a management college.

On February 14, 2006, a student in my class presented me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I felt elated, thanked her, and continued my lecture.

When I returned to the Faculty Room after the class, I carried the bouquet proudly in my hands. It was then that I discovered many other teachers having big bouquets of flowers on their desks. They informed me that this particular girl had 12 bouquets on Valentine Day and had presented one to each of her teachers.

DKS,9 FEB., 2016

by: Sheila

In the seniors' facility where I live as a tenant, we have the chance to treat a resident to a free "Sweetheart's Lunch" for Valentine's Day. One pays for the two lunches.

The menu sounded unusual and interesting and included roast beef, which I believe most men enjoy; however, I can't eat beef so they could have my share if they wanted to.

Well, I -- female -- asked four males if they would like to have this lunch with me and guess what? They all refused!

It seems that pairing me with some male would set tongues a'wagging.

Should I be insulted or just laugh it off?

Wendy: Laugh it Off! They might have had a great new friend! Their silly loss... GRIN!

Very Interesting!
by: Wendy

Here, in the USA, it's the men who shower women with candy, mostly chocolate, but also flowers, gifts, dinner, whatever!

I had to laugh at White Day, yes, the chocolate manufacturers definitely wanted to make that a big day... double dippers!

Thanks for the lesson in Japanese culture! I totally enjoyed it as I love learning about different cultures around the world!

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