It’s that time of the year again! Everyone is talking about plans for the special day and all I hear is chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate!
Not that I have anything against chocolate or Valentine’s day, on the contrary, I love both of them! But for the whole last week, every time I walked past the chocolate counter set up exclusively for the occasion in Keihan mall and fought my way through the crowds of girls, I seriously started to have my doubts about the Japanese way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. Until one of the students at Smith’s School of English shared her understanding of the occasion with me, which I hope makes as much sense to you as it did to me.
In Japan, there are two Valentine’s days, as many of us expatriates have found out with surprise. Feb 14 is the day when girls give out presents (mainly chocolate) to boys, while Mar 14 is the White Day when girls recieve something in return. Girls give out chocolate to not only their boyfriends, but also fathers, male friends, teachers, company seniors and even average colleagues, although the quality of the chocolate might vary. This is probably why chocolate counters turn into such a crowded nightnare! But anyway, my student was a young woman in her late 20s, she said she did the same thing every year and was planning on doing the same this year as well. For her, while giving out chocolate to her boyfriend is a romantic thing to do, the chocolates for her father and her male colleagues are more a gesture of gratitude. Japanese people are known for their being considerate and grateful, it seems that Valentine’s Day is no longer simply a romantic day for the couples here, but a day when all the males in this society feel the appreciation from the other sex. Isn’t it a sweet idea?