Valentines Day is a day of flowers, chocolate, and love letters. It is a day where couples can get together to enjoy the loving spirit that flows within them. All around the world it seems that Valentine’s day is celebrated using the same general idea. Contrary to popular belief, Valentine’s Day is much different than what we know to be true in the U.S.
All through grade school, we would buy or make our own standard Valentine cards that paid homage to our favorite character at the time. I can recall having Simpsons Valentine cards for one year. Anyway, we would write each classmates’ name and give one to each student in the class. Afterwards, we would have some event to make a Valentine’s Day themed box to store our cards inside. Other times we had similar activities related to the holiday.
As you get older, Valentines tend to change from cards to every classmate into something more private. Through high school and up, cards are typically sent privately to someone you like or even a secret crush. Flowers may be given or delivered along with a box of assorted chocolates. In fact, last year I gave my Valentine a heart shaped cake with a stuffed animal and flowers. Some couples go out to dinner to celebrate the holiday and others stay in to watch a movie together. It is a holiday that is celebrated in many different ways, but generally in an affectionate way.
As for those lonesome single folks, there is plenty to do on Valentine’s Day. Despite the holiday, single people will find another single friend to ‘protest’ the holiday with as they search for their ‘true love’ for the next year. Being that Americans tend to be labeled as strong-minded characters, it helps a lot with their independence of an ‘exclusive’ holiday. This independence is something I value about my culture.
Since I’ve covered the general celebrations in America, I’ll proceed with the ways of doing Valentine’s Day in Japan. It is focused around the same idea, but is actually quite different. Rather than men giving women chocolate, flowers, and/or a letter, WOMEN are supposed to give MEN chocolate!! I can’t stress enough, this is my kind of holiday. Reversing roles makes it quite rewarding to be in a relationship. Another specific is that flowers are not commonly or often given. Instead, the women make the chocolate themselves and give it to their friends or their partner. In addition to the chocolate, they may give a card that says, “Get fat with all of my chocolate”, not that my girlfriend wrote that or anything.
Following Valentines Day, on March 14th, men are supposed to return the favor and repay the women for the gifts they received a month before. This is called, “White Day”. On White Day, the men will reciprocate by giving chocolate to the women, but if the woman gave something more valuable such as a nice watch then it is expected of the man to respond with an equally valuable present. Most commonly being handbags, watches, or jewelry (everybody wins!).
Happy Valentine’s Day and feel free to let me know how you celebrated (or protested) the day where you live.