Understanding White Day: The Foreign Follow Up to Valentine’s Day


Romance is in the air this month as the world observes the holiday of Valentine’s Day. Every February 14th, society becomes a little more sentimental as candy and flowers are exchanged and love is expressed. There are many personal days for couples that can be used to express romance, such as a married couple’s anniversary, but there is only one all-inclusive holiday for romantic love. At least…there’s only one in America.

Some countries observe Valentine’s Day in different ways than others. For example, in America, Valentine’s Day is a holiday where the gender that gets the gifts and expresses the love for the other does not matter. Men can get gifts for the women and vice versa without there being an obligation to do so. In places such as Japan, holiday activities are initiated by the women and reciprocated by the men. The women have to go out and get gifts to express their love for the men as a type of social obligation. To some, this may not seem entirely fair, and it may raise questions such as: why should only women have to express their love? Why is there no holiday similar to Valentine’s Day in Japan where men have to express their love to women? This is where White Day comes in.

White Day is a holiday in Japan that takes place every March 14th (which is also Pi Day) exactly one month after Valentine’s Day. The purpose is to serve as an answer to Valentine’s Day where men are socially obligated to show their appreciation and love to women. The gifts that men give to their lovers are supposed to be generally more valuable than what they had received. Giving a gift that is just as valuable is used as a way of either rejecting someone’s offer for love, ending a relationship, or expressing appreciation for a friend. The name “White Day” references the color of a marshmallow because originally, the name would have been “Marshmallow Day.”

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