Wednesday, February 19, 2014

V-Day. It's for the Boys

   Coming to another country, it's always fun to experience the different holidays the host country celebrates. More often than not they're completely different than from home, but that's part of the fun. Japan has a few of the same holidays we do in the U.S. but the one that might surprise you the most is Valentine's Day. I can see how Christmas made it over here, but I'm still at a complete loss on how Valentine's Day became a thing. In typical Japanese fashion, they have turned that holiday into something all their own.

   In Japan there are two love-related holidays: Valentine's Day and White Day. On Valentine's Day, women give men chocolate. On March 14th, White Day, men give candy, marshmallows, or sweets to the women who gave them chocolate back in February. They're also expected to give more than they received. So if I give Josh a box of chocolates for Valentine's, he should give me back an even bigger box of candy. If that sounds strange, it gets more complicated. There are three levels of chocolate gifts to give on Valentine's Day. There is giri-choco which is the chocolate you would give to male friends, co-workers, or just someone you are not romantically interested in. If someone get giri-choco, they are in the friend zone. These would be just plain chocolates anyone can buy in a bag at store. Then there is tomo-choco. Recently, girls will give other girls chocolates on Feb. 14th. As these are friend chocolates, I don't think it matters how nice they are. A teacher my age said 10 years ago tomo-choco didn't exist, leaving chocolate loving girls all over Japan heartbroken. But the really special chocolates are honmei-choco. These are given to people you are romantically interested in, so boyfriend, husband, or crush. If you give a honmei-choco to your crush, you will be hoping that in the next month he returns the gift on White Day because it means he is crushing back. This sounds like a personal form of torture to wait an entire month to see if a guy likes you back or if he'll even realize you gave him a honmei chocolate to begin with. If you want to show a guy that you think he's the bees knees, give him homemade chocolates that you slaved away for hours at home making. One of the first things I noticed here is the popularity of making your own chocolates. They set out displays for about a month in every store with melting chocolates, decorating pens, molds, and packaging. A guy here doesn't care much about how much you spent. He wants to know you almost broke your back in half, bending over to make tiny swirls on the chocolate hearts you just burned yourself making. That's true love right there.

   White Day seems to be a bit simpler when you forget about all of the broken hearts. Guys give girls mainly marshmallows and candy, which I think is crap if you like chocolate. Girls do not give other girls anything on this day, and when I asked about guys giving guys tomo-marshmallows, I got a lot of 気持ち悪い in response.

   This year I tag-teamed chocolate and cookie making with a friend. We made shortbread hearts, regular milk chocolates shaped like hearts and cats, and Southern Comfort ganache dark chocolate hearts. I love Josh, but I don't know if I love him enough to make him chocolates again. I think we were baking and making cookies for about 6 hours. My back hurt the next day from all the bending over. Yes everything tasted amazing, but still. Godiva makes some pretty good chocolates and it will take me only 5 minutes to buy them. I also made him a card this year that was so ugly I apologized in the message. That's love. And because Josh is Josh, he got me pink roses and a heart shaped box of Godiva chocolates even though he was supposed to wait for White Day. So maybe we aren't celebrating in true Japanese Valentine's fashion, but who said we can't do some cultural blending in our lives? Certainly not me when it means Josh still has to get me something on White Day. Because who doesn't want another day to celebrate love?

1 comment:

  1. I want to travel in Japan!! I like Japanese culture and anime.