There is a unique way of celebrating Valentine’s Day in Japan. In fact, Valentine’s Day is celebrated over two days -14th February and 14th March.
On 14th February, women in Japan give gifts to men. In return men give gifts to women on 14th March. Chocolates are the most favourite gifts for this occasion followed by cookies. In fact, it is believed that the true emotions are not conveyed if chocolates are purchased to be gifted. That is why many young girls, prepare chocolates or cookies for gifting to their boyfriends. The kind of chocolates which women give to boyfriends, lovers or husbands are called “Honmei – choco” and these are special. Also there is a tradition among women to gift chocolates (or cookies) to their male co workers, close male friends and bosses. These chocolates are called “Giri – choco” meaning Obligation chocolates and are not associated with romance.
Another name for chocolates gifted among friends is “Tomo choco” which is an abbreviation for “Tomodachi chocolate” (Tomodachi is the Japanese word for Friend).
14th March is also called as White Day and as such most men gift White chocolates to their girlfriends, lovers or wife. It is said that the White Day tradition began in the 1978 as a marketing attempt by chocolate manufacturers. It was started as an Answer day for gifts received a month earlier.
I had first heard of this White Day celebration last year when were living in South Korea. There men gift non chocolate candy to women on this day. In fact single people who did not receive any gift on February or March 14 go to a restaurant on April 14 to eat “ Jajangmyeon or Black noodles” as mourning of their boring single life ! As such April 14th is called “Black Day” in Korea though it is not as popular as Valentine’s Day or White Day.