The sweetest day of the year is celebrated every 14th of February — Valentine’s Day. It is a time when people express their feelings to their loved ones by giving them flowers, chocolates, letters, gifts, and etc. It is a time when people go to fancy restaurants together with their family, friends, or their significant other.
But in Japan, there are two sweet days in the year. First, Valentine’s Day. Second, White Day. White day (ホワイトデー) is celebrated a month after Valentine’s Day — March 14. These are two different days are celebrated in very unique styles here.
In Japan, the women are the ones who give men gifts on Valentine’s Day, specifically chocolates. It is a strong tradition followed by the Japanese people. There are two types of chocolates that women give: “Giri-choco” is the type of chocolate given to friends, neighbors, bosses, and other male friends. “Giri-choco” has no romance involved. While the “Honmei-choco” (本命チョコ) is meant to be given to a crush, lover, boyfriend, or a husband.
White Day is when the men, who received chocolates on Valentine’s Day, are expected to give a present back in return. This was first celebrated in 1978, in Japan. The National Confectionery Industry Association started promoting this day as a response for Valentine’s Day. It is when men should pay back women who gave them gifts. Popular White Day gifts include white chocolates, pastries, jewelry, white lingerie and marshmallows.
White day is now also celebrated in South Korea, Taiwan, and China.
Many of us believe that men are the ones who should give gifts, and not women. They say that women are just supposed to sit there and look pretty, and let the men express their love for them. Some of them might say that a custom of a woman giving gifts to her man is awkward, and should not be practiced.
What I like about Japan and the Japanese people is that they gave women a chance to also give and express their feelings to their loved ones. They gave women one day to freely express how they really feel, and not to be awkward about it. It is also an advantage to men, letting them know that they are loved and admired. Women and men are both human beings. We all deserve to be able to love, and we all deserve to be loved back.