Like in the U.S., February 14th is celebrated as Valentine’s Day in Japan. But Valentine’s day in Japan is usually celebrated by only women giving gifts.
Women give gifts on Valentine’s Day for the important people in their life, whether it be a romantic partner, a secret crush, a dear friend or even a work colleague.
Then exactly a month later, Japan celebrates White Day, the day on which men return the favor to women in appreciation of what they received on Valentine's Day.
White Day has its origins in 1977 when a local Japanese candy company in Kyusyu region invented Marshmallow Day. They made marshmallow paste stuffed inside chocolate for men to give to women. Marshmallow Day was well received among young adults. It did not take long before The National Confectionery Industry Association set their eyes on this local trend. They teamed up with department stores and advertising firms to start marketing aggressively. By the mid-1980s, the new tradition had spread all over Japan as “White Day” and began to include not only candies but flowers, handkerchiefs, and even lingerie or jewelries as desirable gifts.
In 2015 the White Day’s marketing size hit its record of $ 1.3 billion which was more than the size of Valentine’s Day’s $ 1.2 billion. This is the reason White Day is sometimes referred to as the finest example of cunningly clever marketing, an extremely unromantic name for the day of love.
When I was in high school, I gave homemade chocolate to a boy I had a crush on for Valentine’s Day. I was not expecting anything from him in return. So, I became very excited when he presented me with a Tupperware box full of cookies he had made himself for White Day. To make him happy, I finished them all at once. This could have been a sweet story if the cookies were not as hard as rocks. Impossible to chew, I swallowed most of the cookies. I ended up in the ER that evening!