What is White Day?
Every year, Japan celebrates White Day (“ホワイトデー”, pronounced “howaito dē”) on March 14th – exactly one month after Valentine’s Day. But what is exactly White Day?
First, it is important to know that on Valentine’s Day, the tradition is for Japanese women to offer chocolate to men. These gifts are categorized into two types: “giri-choco” and “honmei-choco”. The first type of chocolate is meant to be offered to male friends and colleagues but do not involve romance or love – that is why they are called “giri-choco” (“giri” meaning “obligation” in Japanese) as they’re seen more as a social courtesy gift. On the other hand, “honmei-choco” (“chocolate of love”) are prepared by ladies and gifted to their boyfriend, husband or lover: usually, Japanese women make those chocolates themselves as it is believed to be the best way to show true love and affection (so sweet!).
White Day occurs one month later: this time, men are expected to return the favor and show their appreciation to women who gifted them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Among the favorite presents handed out by men to women on White Day, you find white chocolate, but also jewelry, cookies, flowers, candies and even white lingerie! However, gift men hand out to women on White Day should be significantly of higher value than the one received on V-Day – this is called “sanbai gaeshi” (“triple the return”), as the customary rule is that the gift should be twice or three times worth the original gift received on Valentine’s Day!
White chocolate filled with straweberries offered on White Day - yummy!
But where does this tradition comes from? In the past, when Valentine’s Day started to get popular in Japan, local chocolate companies mostly marketed the day as the time for women to show their affection towards men. Since Japanese women were believed to be shy and conservative, Valentine’s Day was the perfect opportunity to express their feelings by gifting the men they appreciated or loved (it explains why nowadays in Japan, mostly only women do the giving on February 14th). In 1978, the Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association started White Day as an “answer day” when men were supposed to return the favor to women who gifted them on Valentine’s Day. As a result, chocolate confectioneries started marketing white chocolate heavily! Over time, this separation of Valentine’s Day and White Day has taken ground in Japan: we can say that both men and women each enjoy a day when they get to be spoiled! In a way, this separation between V-Day and White Day also shows the cultural difference between Japan and western countries. Of course, brands and marketers alike take advantage of White Day to offer big discounts too!
A banner showcasing White Day offers on a popular online Japanese marketplace
In recent years, White Day has been adopted in other East Asian countries (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea). Nowadays, White Day is progressively gaining popularity in other countries, especially in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand). This growing trend clearly shows the enormous influence of Japanese culture regionally!
So, to all of men reading this post, make sure to prepare beautiful presents to the women of your lives for White Day!
We hope you enjoyed knowing more about White Day. Thanks for reading!
And always remember: be bold, be colorful, be daring - be Akaiji!