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White Day: March 2004

Author: Tim Boyle, Issue: March 2004, Topic: Japanese Culture

Do you expect to get anything for Valentines Day? Do you know you might be obligated to return something?

In America and many other parts of the world, February 14 is a holiday for lovers. It is a day to give cards, candies or flowers to your "Valentine". They have this is Japan too, but with a twist. February 14 is still Valentines Day, but generally, only the women give gifts on that day. Exactly one month later, on March 14, a sort of "second go around" of Valentines Day occurs here in Japan. It's called "White Day".

White Day is the day for men to give gifts in return to those who gave them gifts the previous month. The reason it is called White Day is that traditionally (in the sense of a rather recent tradition, of course), white chocolate or marshmallow candies are the gift of choice.

White Day was started in Japan by the candy companies as a gimmick to increase candy sales, and in that sense, it is similar to what Hallmark (Greeting Cards) in the U.S. did with its creation of "Secretaries Day" and "Grandparents Day". The way White Day developed, however, would seem to imply that it may have been thought out as more than just a new way to sell candy. It gives men a chance to see who gives them what, and allows them a chance to go out and find something to give in return. This seems a little unfair to the women, but at least the men can no longer say "I forgot" or "I didn't know you were going to get me anything"!

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