To most this may seem like a rather delayed post since Valentine’s Day was weeks ago, but someone on Twitter posted about it being ‘Cat Day’ in Japan and they recently had Hina-Matsuri, and had me wondering what other holidays/national awareness days that Japan had; that’s when I came across White Day (I had already heard of this day and vaguely knew about it but did not know the date), and upon discovering that it lands on the 14th March, 1 month after Valentine’s Day, I’m still within the time frame to write a post about the days of love!
Here in the UK, Valentine’s Day goes something like this for most people:
Couples buy super tacky Valentine’s Day gifts for one another – If you’re the kind of person who sees Valentine’s Day as an important event for you and your loved one, then chances are you’ll end up with the super massive and tacky Valentine’s bear (maybe Me To You if your other half is willing to spend more on you whilst still being tacky); you’ll probably be expecting a large bouquet of roses and box of chocolates to go with it (even if you’ll complain afterwards that you can’t eat the chocolates because you’re on a diet, and you’ll probably complain if they are not expensive enough too).
Restaurants are booked out – You’ve got your gifts but you’re also expecting a fancy dinner reservation; thanks to people like you who find it so damn important to celebrate this event, people who would just like a normal day out can’t, because any restaurant/café/fast-food joint has been booked up with those expecting a ‘romantic’ dinner. You’ll be super pissed if your other half hasn’t booked the table at the exact restaurant you want, even more so if they forget altogether.
You’re after the bling – Suddenly receiving some form of jewellery (especially if it’s the big ER) becomes 1000x more special and romantic if you receive it on Valentine’s Day; you’ll be extremely happy if you get what you want, extremely depressed if you don’t, and extremely jealous if your friends got jewellery and you didn’t.
Okay so in all fairness Valentine’s Day is NOT like this for everyone, I just took the most extreme expectations that not all, but many, have when it comes to Valentine’s Day. A day when you are supposed to show your other half how much you appreciate them for every day that they are with you, has been stomped all over by selfish brag-whores who consider a Valentine’s Day successful only when one has achieved/gained all of the above; those that don’t will consider it a terrible fail that concludes that their other half does not love them enough.
And yes, I did write the above in the view of a woman because let’s face it, 95% of the people I am describing are women as much as I hate to admit it; there is probably a percentage of those who go out and enjoy the day as a truly loved up couple, who organise it together and achieve all of the above in a more sincere, heartfelt way, and an even smaller percentage (like me) who see every day as an opportunity to show their other half how much they care about them and therefore feel little need to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.
SO, that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about in the UK but what about in Japan???
Valentine’s Day came about in Japan when a Japanese confectionary company, Morozoff Ltd, began promoting the giving of heart-shaped chocolates. On this day it is women only who give gifts, usually chocolate (sometimes to all male friends and co-workers if the woman in question feels obliged), with the expensive or handmade chocolates given to those who are more important (honmei-choko = favourite chocolate/chocolate of love) and cheap chocolate given only as an ‘ultra-obligatory’ to the more unpopular associates (cho-giri choko = cheap chocolate); This custom apparently occurred due to a translation error made in the initial campaigns.
So since Valentine’s Day in Japan holds the custom of women giving gifts, there leaves no opportunities for women to become crazy and selfish like they do here in the West haha. I really like this custom, especially since the only gift given tends to be chocolate; I have also read that girls who have someone special to give chocolate to take extra time and consideration over hand-making the chocolates and their presentation. That’s so sweet and thoughtful!!!
Though, maybe you are still wondering where ‘White Day’ comes into it and what exactly is it? Well White Day (Howaito De) lands on the 14th March, one month after Valentine’s Day; a campaign was launched to make a ‘reply day’ where men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolate on Valentine’s Day. A Marshmallow manufacturer tried to popularise the idea of men giving marshmallows to women, but this attempt failed and White Day was named after the colour of the chocolates that men returned as a gift, as well as it being the colour of purity and being the colour of sugar. Men are expected to return a gift double or triple the value of the gift they received on Valentine’s Day; therefore in recent times gifts such as flowers, candies, jewellery, dinner dates and even lingerie have become popular choices, and are usually in the colour of white.
If a man does not return the favour, then this is viewed as the man placing himself in a position of superiority; if a gift of equal value is returned then this signifies that the relationship is being cut.
Although White Day does leave opportunity for some female crazy-heads, I think that the Japanese are far more refined when it comes to such things. I’m aware that the West has influenced many cultures with their selfish, money-grabbing ways but I’m certain that Japan continues to treat these days in a way that they are respectful and appreciative of the meaning behind them. It would be a real shame if the West succeeded in entirely influencing any culture to focus entirely on the goal of selling and spending.
So there you have it, a quick lesson on Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan! I really like that girls are so thoughtful and considerate of the chocolate they are going to give, taking time to decorate them and ensuring that they are nicely presented. You’d be lucky to find anyone here in the UK who would spend their time making chocolate for someone on Valentine’s Day (cake and biscuits are far more likely); if you would like to give someone decorated chocolate, then your best bet would be to visit a Thornton’s Chocolate shop where you can choose your message and have it piped onto a number of different chocolate plaques or models. I love how food is handmade in Japan, now I want to go and cook cute bento and make adorable chocolate for my boyfriend!~♥
Note: Just a quick message to say that I do not wish I was Japanese or living in Japan; I know that in some of my recent posts I have ranted about the attitudes and lack of culture in my own country, but that is not because I hate it and wish to live elsewhere, it just saddens me that my country lacks a lot for its people to be proud of it, and those that are proud of it are proud for all the wrong reasons. It also lacks a lot of unselfish and kind people, the majority are only interested in how much money they can get and what they can get out of people. I simply admire that many cultures, despite the heavy influences of Western countries, still remain true to their traditions and beliefs that family and people are far more important than money.