Valentine’s Day, a day for loved ones to celebrate! Here in the United States we show love and affections by showering each other in gifts ranging from the cute stuffed animal to the romantic *wink wink*. We go out, have an expensive dinner or show how much we love one another by a home made meal. Then there are some of us, home alone with a bag of sweethearts filling up with our lonely, lonely tears. The sorrow make the candy hearts taste better, I swear!
In Japan, Valentines Day is not what you would expect. Men don’t shower women with gifts, or mutual gifts at that. No, no, no, it’s women who are expected to give the gift of chocolate to practically every man in their life, yes including the ones they do not love. So you know that creepy guy in your office, the one that gives you the creeps by his long glares at you, smells bad and looks like he never bathes? Yup gotta give him chocolate! So why do women give out chocolates, even to those she does not love nor like? Well let’s break it down for you, first a brief history, then the three types of gifts that are given out.
Lost in Translations
Which started out as Valentine’s Day advertisements marketed towards foreign expat living in Japan during the 1950’s took off as Japanese companies took noticed and started advertising the concept of Valentine’s Day to the Japanese. Unclear in their translation it was marketed as an opportunity to women to show their love to the man in their life by giving him something special, such as…chocolate! So there started the long tradition of woman being responsible for the chocolate giving.
The Chocolate Trifecta
So now onto the question as to why give chocolates to everyone? Well Japan being a country of constant udder politeness it wouldn’t be right to give something to someone and not another, hence the three types of chocolate woman have to give.
Giri-Chocolate literally mean “obligatory chocolate.” These type of chocolates are given to male friends, bosses, co-works, neighbors, the cat lady down the street, etc. “But what about that creepy guy you keep talking about?” Oh yes for him there is a special version of Giri-Chocolates called “Cho-Giri-Chocolate” (Ultra-obligatory-chocolate) So that creepy co-worker? Bitch gets Cho-Giri-Chocolate, make sure you don’t make eye contact nor any sort of physical touching, you might just have a stalker on your hands!
So if Giri-Chocolates are to be given to those people in your day to day life what about those who you seriously fancy? This is where Honmei-Chocolates come in. Honmei-Chocolate means “favorite chocolate”, so this type is what you would be handing out to your special someone. Where as Giri-Chocolates are usually run of the mill cheap chocolates, Honmei-Chocolates are on a whole other level. With such a special chocolate, women either buy really expensive chocolates or make special chocolates with care and love. So ladies, show your man(or woman) how much you really love them with a special homemade treat, but please do not go psycho and add drops of blood, hair or spit.
Last and definitely least…
Chocolates you give to your female friends… that’s it…. “friendship chocolate” …. yup.
So there you have it! A very Japanese style of Valentine’s Day that only makes sense to those in Japan, but fear not ladies because men get their comeuppance on White Day! Which of course is another article for another day! To all those that do not get the gift of chocolates, well sucks to be you bro, go drown your sorrows in noodles for Black Day, a special South Korean holiday for all you single ladies(and men) out there!