White Day in Japan, returning Valentine’s Day favors

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  • White Day is a holiday in Japan which is celebrated exactly one month after the Valentine’s Day, March 14.

    White day origin

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    White Day is a holiday created by the confectionery industry in Japan. White Day was first celebrated in 1978. In 1977, a Fukuoka-based confectionery company, Ishimura Manseido (石村萬盛堂), was dealing in marshmallows to men on March 14, calling it “Marshmallow Day” (マシュマロデー). However, Marshmallow Day didn’t succeed. Hence, the National Confectionery Industry Association (全国飴菓子工業協同組合) commenced White Day as an “answer day” or “reply day” to Valentine’s Day, prompting men to return the favor to the women for the chocolates or presents they received on Valentine’s Day. White was chosen because it is the color of purity, leaving the impression of “pure and sweet love”, and it’s also the color of sugar. The initial name was “Ai ni Kotaeru White Day” (Answer the Love on White Day).

    Sanbai-gaeshi

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    On White Day, there is an existing rule called sanbai gaeshi which literally means “thrice the return”. It is said that men are supposed to return presents that are at least two or three times more valuable than the gifts they received on Valentine’s Day. Not returning a gift is perceived as “men placing themselves in a position of superiority” and returning a present of equal value is said to be considered as “ending the relationship”.

    Types of gifts

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    Primitively, only chocolates were given but nowadays, presents such as jewelry, accessories, clothing and lingerie are common as White Day gifts. In addition, White Day presents don’t always have to be white.