You may not realize that February 14th is not celebrated universally in the same way.
My friend on Twitter Shashi Bellamkonda explains that he had not even heard of Valentines Day before he arrived in America 11 years ago.
In Japan, February 14th has been successfully commercialized as the day that women give chocolates to men. There is something called “giri choco” which refers to the obligatory gifting of chocolate to male colleagues in offices in Japan. Men give nothing to women on this day. The chocolate companies came up with a day for men to do their kaeshi (return) gift on March 14th. That holiday is called White Day and white chocolate is prescribed as the gift but it has never really become that popular.
For special men in their lives, Japanese women often create chocolate candy at home (no small feat).
Being a Japanese speaking female blonde executive in Japan, I was already so odd that I made up my own ways to celebrate. I ignored obligatory summer and winter gifts that are the usual occasion for business gifts and did my business gifting annually on Valentine’s Day. I had a particular Godiva chocolate set that I liked and could count on to be conveniently sent from an acceptably named department store to both males and females that were important in my business network.
Do you have a Valentines Day ritual?
Update: My friend Harold Archer responding to my post about White Day on Facebook March 14, 2014, said:
“Both the White Day and Valentine Day gift giving is starting to go all ways now, with many largely friend and “thank you” reasons. The word “giri choco” is not cool so much, rather “tomo choco” and more. Not the old style, and not just with gender, but with choco, other choco-related gifts.