White Day – a truly Japanese idea!

Valentine’s Day in Japan (February 14th) is a little bit different to that of other countries. Here, Valentine’s Day is celebrated exclusively by women giving chocolates to men.

Not only boyfriends or husbands either – there are two types of valentine’s chocolate. “Giri-choco”, and “Honmei-choco”. Giri-choco is meant to be for friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends. “Giri” means obligation hence this Giri-choco has no romance involved.

Honmei-choco however, is given to a boyfriend, lover, or husband with true love. Honmei means “favorite” (like a favorite horse to win a race). Japanese women often prepare the Honmei-choco by hand, as many of them think it is not true love if they buy it ready-made.

March 14th is White Day. Cleverly coined in 1978 by the National Confectionery Industry Association of Japan, it gives men a chance to “answer” the women who gave them chocolates on February 14th. Again, this may be Giri-choco or Honmei-choco and so the man may not be expressing actual romantic interest, but rather a social obligation. Confusing!