The 14th of February is a day on which the hearts of many Japanese men throb, in (literally) sweet expectations of pleasures to come.
The day is recognized as the “St. Valentine’s day”, a day on which you express your love to your sweethearts. That bit is pretty much the same all around the world. What is unique in Japan is that it is mainly a girl that is expected to express her love, giving a box of chocolate to the boy held dear in heart. Often the presentation is a surprise one, coming from an unexpected admirer of the opposite sex. That’s why the boys’ hearts throb on this fateful day.
Conspiracy theories abound as to how the Japanese Valentine’s day has “degenerated” into a unidirectional offering of cacao based sweets. Some say that it was a campaign of the chocolate manufacturers which kick-started the now (in)famous tradition. Brainwashing aside, chocolate giving has taken hold most probably because it somehow resonated with the Japanese psyche.
Japanese girls seem to like the idea of giving a box of chocolate to the loved one, as it fits the image of sweet feminineness. Boys, on the receiving side, admire the tenderness and considerations expressed this way. It is thus the result of a cultural marriage between the Western tradition and Japanese conception of what is feminine that has made chocolate giving on Saint Valentine’s day such a runaway hit.
It is interesting how much and deeply one could delve into the traditions and cultures of a particular nation, by taking note of a seemingly trivial custom. One would be able to reveal many things about the Nation of Japan, just thinking about the chocolate giving on Saint Valentine’s day. This short essay is intended as just a starter. I would be able to deepen my thoughts better, with the help of a box of chocolate.
If I get one, that is.
A Japanese girl offering a box of self-made chocolate, from http://umasou.com/barentain/, a recipe site for Valentine’s day chocolates.