Thursday, 16 February 2012

Saint who? Valentine's Day in Japan

Valentine’s Day in Japan has little to do with the western idea that it is a celebration of romantic love between individuals who hold romantic feelings for one another. Instead, in Japan women – and only women – are expected to buy chocolate – and only chocolate – for all of the blokes in their life, relatives, lovers, friends and colleagues.

This, of course, has suited me down to the ground and I received a good haul of sweeties. Indeed, I got more on Valentine’s Day than I did at Christmas.

However, this is all part of the Japanese system of obligation. I’ve received quite a lot of choccie, but I have to give it all back (if not slightly more) on March 14th, which is called “White Day” (incidentally, the “tradition’ is to give white chocolate back to the ladies). The Japanese are perfectly cognisant of the fact that it’s all a big ploy by the chocolate companies, but still they do it. They are far from cognisant, however, of the Christian roots of St. Valentine’s Day. They didn’t even know it was a person’s name, when I asked. Still, for all of the expense, I think it’s quite pleasant, especially when you got a small present you weren’t expecting.

A late “Happy Valentine’s Day!” to you all.

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