Valentine’s Day is big business in Japan, especially for chocolatiers. At all the supermarkets and bakeries that I went to, bold posters screamed out to me in pink and red and with images of chocolates all pretty and yummylicious. With such obvious reminders plastered all over, it is difficult to give the excuse of not remembering this day.
We asked Maejima-san how Valentine’s Day is normally celebrated in Japan. It was interesting to learn that in patriarchal Japan, women are the ones who have to present gifts on this day. Gift giving is divided into two categories. Women would buy, mostly chocolates, and present them to their fathers, bosses, male friends and colleagues. The cheapest Valentine’s Day chocolates cost around ¥800. Imagine if they have ten colleagues. For that special someone, she would present him with premium chocolates. I asked her what is considered premium. Her one-worded answer was, “Godiva!”
That is not the end of the story. Men who have received the chocolates have to reciprocate on March 14, which is known as White Day. Apparently, this day came about when confectioners encouraged men give in return white fluffy marshmallows. It was first called Marshmallow Day. This eventually evolved into giving away white chocolates, candies and other forms of presents. The more popular men who have received more chocolates than they could ever eat in February would be hard pressed to return the deed in March. Being good looking and charming has its disadvantages, too.
Thank you, Maejima-san, for sharing this interesting snippet with us. And thank you for the very delicious-looking truffles. I have yet to unwrap this gift. Today is a good time to do just that. Here’s wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day.