Japanese Valentine’s Day Traditions

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valentine's day

The United States is not the only country to celebrate Valentine’s day!

As February 14 comes around the corner, many thoughts turn to love, romance, and special celebrations. In Japan, the feelings are similar. Valentine’s day is celebrated all over the world, and it’s no different in the Land of the Rising Sun.

For the Japanese, Valentine’s day is for women to show appreciation for all the men in their life, not just lovers. For male friends, co-workers, and bosses, women give chocolates called “giri-choco”. This means “obligation chocolate” and has no romantic feeling behind them.

These simple gifts are usually store-bought chocolates or other small gifts. As you could probably guess, this can sometimes cause stress and pressure, which is probably what lead to the term “cho-giri-choco,” meaning “very obligatory chocolate.”

That’s for the guy who really gets on your nerves!

A More Popular Valentine’s Day Tradition

A more recent type of this chocolate, called “tomo-choco,” is becoming quite popular with schoolgirls. This is a simple gift for female friends, and is a nice way to include everyone.

The other type of chocolate, “honmei-choco,” is for a boyfriend, love-interest, or husband. These chocolates and baked goods are usually handmade to show how much the woman really cares.

Around this time of year, Japanese stores are packed with baking supplies, decorations, wrapping papers, and all sorts of other goodies to make your gifts extra special. Often, the amount of effort and love put into “honmei-choco” is a symbol for how much a woman cares for and loves the recipient.

Women get a special day too!

That may seem a bit unfair, but the women have a special day, too! One month later, on March 14, men give chocolates and gifts to the women in their lives. The chocolate is often white, giving this holiday the name “White Day.” The men give women chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and other small gifts.Valentine's Day traditions

Just like the Valentine’s Day Gifts, the White Day gifts have more meaning if more effort and love are put into them. When giving a “giri-choco” gift on White Day,” it is usually about the same value as the one they received a month prior.

However, White Day “honmei-choco” is a bit more elaborate. Some men practice the idea of “sanbai gaeshi,” which means “three times return.” For this, the men give their girlfriend, love interest, or wife a gift with a value triple the one they gave him.

Cultures all over the world celebrate this holiday a little differently. What do you do for this special day?

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