Japanese White Day: Love in different cultures


Most people associate Valentine’s Day with giving chocolates and gifts romantically, but in Japan and other Asian cultures, Valentine’s Day has been more thought of as a holiday for giving loved ones, friends and coworkers gifts.

Valentine’s Day in Japan is for women to give gifts to the men in their lives. It could be their friends, loved ones or co-workers who are close to them.

Then, on March 14, it’s the men’s turn to give gifts to the women who gave them gifts. The men give anything white. This day is called White Day. Common gifts such as clothing, white chocolate or white paper cranes can be given.

The main reason for White Day comes from what Japanese culture believes when it comes to gift-giving. People in Japan believe if someone receives something, they should give something back in return. This is called Okaeshi. It means gifts given for receiving gifts.

“I love how much different the culture is with the holidays over in Japan compared to here and that the festivals are always so special with each piece of it representing something important,” Shelby Beckstead, a member of Cosplayers of Utah, said.

According to History.com, Valentine’s Day used to be known as Lupercalia, the pagan holiday that celebrated the she-wolf that took in Romulus and Remus. It was then changed to be called Valentine’s day in honor of Saint Valentine, a Catholic Saint.

“It was one of the Roman fertility festivals, and it was later converted into Saint Valentine’s Day by the Roman Catholic Church much in the same way that several other prolific pagan holidays were altered to more closely fit the church’s image.” Rhydian, a member of Cosplayers of Utah, said.

Rhydian has also pointed out that though both holidays have become increasingly commercialized as the years go on, they love that it isn’t centralized on romantic love; you can give gifts to anyone close to you.

Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan are also quite differently celebrated in this aspect when compared to Valentine’s Day in the United States.

In Japan, it is more focused on love in general and not necessarily romantic love. In fact, on Valentine’s Day in Japan, the chocolates are called obligation chocolates. Not because they are naturally obligated to give them, but because the men who are given the chocolates are close to the women in some way or another.

“I love celebrating those I care about,” Justine Carroll, a member of Cosplayers of Utah, said. “Sure I tell them I love them every day, but making them feel special once a year is something I love to do.”