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White Day in Japan

by Ewa Nowogorski

A holiday that is perhaps unique to Japan, White Day is held on March 14th, exactly one month after Valentine’s Day. It is a day when all the Japanese boys and men who received chocolate one month prior have a chance to reciprocate the generosity they were shown earlier and buy a gift for the women they received chocolates from. 

In this tradition, it is outlined that men should return a gift to the woman (or women) they are interested in that is about 3 times the value of the gift they had originally received.

Needless to say, this is a holiday that can also get very expensive for men, who now bear the burden of buying something more expensive than what they received.

In general, I think this holiday is not taken as seriously as Valentine’s Day is. Many men who work full-time jobs are too busy, tired, or lazy to reciprocate the gifts they received. A friendly gift can also be misinterpreted as a romantic one more easily when it is given from a male to a female, creating awkwardness. Maybe less than 30 percent of men will actually give back to the women that have indebted them.

Interestingly, White Day was started by a group of middle-aged men, who believed that all men should show gratitude to the women who showed them love with chocolate. It originated in Fukuoka in 1977 and the first year it was originally called Marshmallow Day, later changed to White Day one year later.

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