Valentine’s Day – Learnings from Asia

Valentine’s Day is recognized internationally as a day when people exchange cards and gifts as a sign of affection.

But Japan has it’s very own tradition! Women are expected to offer chocolate to men in their lives; including husbands, male friends, co-workers and bosses. The giving of chocolate to men with no romantic connotations is known as “giri-choco” – or Obligation Chocolates! Men are expected to return the favor one month later on March 14th, known as “White Day.”


So how did it all begin? According to most sources, White Day is the invention of a small confectionary shop, Ishimura Manseido, in the Hakata region in 1977. The story goes that a lady wrote into a woman’s magazine stating that men should pay back the women who gave them chocolate and other gifts on Valentine’s Day. The following year the National Confectionery Industry Association created White Day.

White Day is no secret these days, so why haven’t chocolate companies in the West followed suit. One idea could be that the concepts of ‘obligation’’ & ‘gift’ do not go well together. This line of thought says, in the West, we only give gifts when we truly mean it & when it is from the heart. However, this idea does not the match the reality. Is gift giving in the West, always this altruistic? For many, there are last minute panic buys, gifts for teachers as other parents have bought them, anniversary gifts, gifts bought on sale days such as Black Friday and the list probably goes on.

And remember that chocolate gifts do not always have to actually be given. There has been a growing trend in buying giri choco only to end up eating it all yourself as a well-deserved treat!

So come on Chocolate makers! Okay the new day does not need to be branded White Day or Obligation Day but there is surely space for a White Day in the West too!!

Related articles: Valentine’s Day in Japan 2020

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