The time of chocolates, tacky heart-shaped decorations and countless, cute couple Instagram photos with romantic captions is almost upon us! That’s right, it’s nearly February 14th, Valentine’s Day!
How do you plan to celebrate this Valentine’s Day? Will you be cuddled up with your significant other, giving each other extravagant gifts? Or will you be moping about alone, waiting for the 15th of February so that you can fill your loneliness with cheap, discounted chocolate? Or will you be celebrating the freedom of being single and spending all your money on Valentine’s Heartseeker skins in League of Legends- oh wait, that’s probably just me.
Anyway, the subject of today’s post, if that was not obvious enough, is how the Japanese celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Unlike most other countries, on the Japanese Valentine’s Day, it is the women, not the men, who give the presents. As Japanese women are often too shy, it is seen as a good opportunity for them to confess their feelings, and many girls take this very seriously – so much that there are three kinds of Valentine’s Day chocolates.
Depending on who they are giving chocolates to, they can be classified into one of these three categories:
1. Tomo-choco (友チョコ)
Tomo-choco, or friend chocolate, refers to the sweets that girls give to their female friends. They are usually store-bought and carry zero implications of romantic affection. Of all the chocolate types, this is the simplest and the most straightforward.
Some girls, usually those in junior high or high school, make their tomo-choco as well, and exchange them with each other. It helps improve their cooking skills!
2. Giri-choco (義理チョコ）
Giri-choco, which means obligation chocolate, are the sweets that women give out to male friends, coworkers and even bosses. As it is not very nice to leave people out (imagine how sad it would be to be that single guy in the office to get nothing at all), women will give these chocolates to all the men in their workplace. Hence, they have no romantic implications whatsoever, instead symbolizing friendship or gratitude. There is another level of them – cho giri-choco, or super obligation chocolate. Those are for the really unpleasant men that women really do not want to give chocolates to, but have no choice but to.
Giri-choco are usually simple, store-bought chocolate, though they can be more expensive when given to superiors.
3. Honmei-choco (本命チョコ）
Honmei-choco is the most serious and extravagant of them all. Meaning favorite chocolate, honmei-choco is given out to the object of the woman’s romantic affections, be it a crush, lover or a partner. Hence, they are on a whole new level – some girls even believe that store-bought chocolate is not sincere enough, and prepare their honmei-choco gifts by hand.
As there needs to be a clear distinction between honmei and giri-choco, the store-bought versions tend to be extremely extravagant and expensive, which is great for the chocolate companies, but hard on the girls’ wallets.
Of course, the men will eventually have their turn. Exactly one month later, on the 14th of March, Japan celebrates White Day, men return the favor by getting gifts for the women who had given them presents. Returning giri-choco is easy, just buy a simple box of chocolates that are hopefully worth around the same amount of money.
However, returning honmei-choco is difficult, depending on how their relationship has changed in the month since the girl’s confession. If the two are dating, it is simple enough – take the girl out to dinner, buy her a teddy bear, the cheesy stuff. But if the girl was rejected, it would be awkward to give her something, yet rude not to. In that situation, well… good luck.
So, what do you guys think? Do you prefer the Singaporean way of celebrating Valentine’s Day, or the Japanese one?