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Valentine’s Day in Japan: an ode to chocolate
The peculiarity of Valentine’s Day in Japan is that it is only men who receive a gift … and not just any gift! On Valentine’s Day, women give chocolates and sweets made of chocolate to the men in their lives. Yes, they have read well: on Valentine’s day men receive chocolate, often handmade by the girl in question (although on many occasions also bought, of course).
But what may surprise us most is that these chocolates or chocolates are not only given to the couple or to the person for whom they have romantic feelings, but also to friends, family and co-workers. So, a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day can be from a declaration of love to a simple social obligation, we must avoid getting confused!
In fact, the chocolates we give to the person we like are called honmei-choko (本命 チ ョ コ) (literally favorite chocolate), while the chocolate we give to friends is called tomo-choko (友 チ ョ コ) or Friendship chocolate: It is the one that is given to the closest friends, often regardless of sex, since it can be given equally to men and women. If it is for close relatives, it is sometimes called Fami-choko ..
Finally, the chocolate we give to our coworkers is called giri-choko (義理 チ ョ コ) or chocolate by obligation. A fairly frequent gift for coworkers, bosses, friends and, in general, men for whom there are no romantic feelings. Curious, right?
Apparently, Valentine’s Day arrived in Japan in 1936, thanks to an advertisement for foreigners who lived on Japanese lands at that time, although it really did not begin to become popular until the 1950s. In 1953 they were put up for sale the first heart-shaped chocolates and in 1958 the first ‘Valentine’s sales’ were held to encourage consumption and the economy.
But don’t think that Japanese men are lucky because they don’t have to give anything for Valentine’s Day. And on March 15, the White Day or white day is celebrated, which would be like Valentine’s Day for the girls. And in this case it is the boys who have to “return the favor” and give something to the girls …