Valentine’s Day is a global event, celebrating love and companionship. Nationally, Valentine’s Day occurs on February 14th.
Many origins stem from the event, the most prominent of which involves the martyr St Valentine, a Christian priest who operated during the time of the Roman Empire. It is said that, before his execution, he wrote a letter to his lover, ending the letter with “Your dearest Valentine.”
Valentine’s in Japan is celebrated by the girls giving the men chocolates. An additional day, known as “White Day” on March 14th, is celebrated by the men paying the girls back for their Valentine’s gifts.
In Japan, Valentine’s Day was first introduced by Morozoff Ltd. when it ran an advertisement aimed at foreigners in 1936. In 1953 the company began promoting the giving of heart-shaped chocolates and other Japanese confectionery companies followed suit thereafter.
In 1958 the Isetan department store ran a "Valentine sale" and further campaigns during the 1960s popularized the custom into a national event.
In the 1980s the Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association launched a successful campaign to make March 14 a "reply day", where men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day, calling it White Day for the colour of the chocolates being offered.
Women are inclined to give chocolates to the men in their lives or male co-workers. To dictate what type of chocolate to give the following classifications were created to address the nature of the relationship with the amount of chocolate.
- Chō-giri choko
- cheap chocolate given to unpopular co-workers as a matter of obligation.
- Giri-choko (義理チョコ "obligation chocolate")
- chocolate given to co-workers as a matter of obligation.
- Honmei-choko (本命チョコ, Favourite chocolate)
- chocolate given to a loved one.
- Tomo-choko (友チョコ)
- chocolate exchanged between friends of either gender.
Men are expected to return gifts that are at least two or three times more valuable than the gifts received in Valentine's Day. Not returning the gift is perceived as the men placing himself in a position of superiority, even if excuses are given.
Returning a present of equal value is considered as a way to say that you are cutting the relationship. Originally only chocolate was given, but now the gifts of jewellery, accessories, clothing and lingerie are usual.
- Japanese chocolate companies make half their annual sales during this time of the year.
- The custom that only women give chocolates to men originated from a typo written by a chocolate-company executive during the 1960 campaigns.
- A previous attempt was made by a marshmallow manufacturer to have a “White Day” by having Japanese men return white marshmallows to women instead of white chocolate.
- The colour white was chosen for White Day because of it's the association with purity, evoking "pure, sweet teen love", and because it is also the colour of sugar. The initial name was "Ai ni Kotaeru White Day" (Answer Love on White Day).
- In Japan, the romantic "Date Night" commonly associated Valentine's Day in western countries is instead celebrated on Christmas Eve.
- Before his arrival to Hinata House, Keitaro received Valentine's Day chocolates from Kanako, but since it was from his sister, they didn't count.