Tuesday, February 14, 2012

St. Valentine’s day, the Japanese way.

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.

6 comments:

Tsumabenicho said...

The unique presents in Japan are diversifying. Girls may prepare some chocolates, some of them are bars, cubes like Tyrol Choco, and boxes like Codiva. Handmade chocolate is not always given to the favorite. My younger sister often presented the failed deformed ones to her neighbor brats.

Girls want to be made a guess at the meaning by the receivers. That is a secret pleasure for her chocolate.

AkiraYama said...

I appreciate your stimulating, inspiring essays. And I'm not so good a writer as you. However, onlookers sometimes detect mistakes of wise people("Okame Hachimoku?"). Your use of the word "reveal" sounds strange to me. Consult your dictionary, especially English-English dictionaries. If I'm wrong, please forgive my stupidity.

(ma)gog said...

I just hope that you have got the special one that is the most meaningful to you at this stage of your life!!

Takuro said...

I'm thirty-six. And I still haven't got any 'Valentine's day chocolate' from excepting my mother and big sisiter, or co-workers at the office. Nonetheless I love St. Valentine's day and so-called 'White Day', because I can share the delicious cookies which I will give them on the 14th of March. (It's one of typical Japanese bachelor's cases. Don't you think so?)

Meghu said...

Valentine’s Day in japan has been modified where women rather than gifting to boyfriends or spouses, feel their duty to present chocolates as a gift to all male co-workers. Girls on this day are also free to gift candy to their loved ones or friends. What is white day

valentines day said...

valentines day only for lovers i dont believe this valentines day is for everyone it is not limited to human beings it is also applicable to animals....