What Is White Day? — A Brief History of March 14th

‘White Day’ may be a term that sounds familiar if you watch anime or read manga, but what does it mean? Happening every year on March 14th, it happens one month after Valentine’s Day when people give reciprocal gifts to those who gave them gifts on Valentine’s Day.

This celebration first began in Japan in the 1970s, when Fukuoka-based confectionary company Ishimuramanseido began marketing marshmallows to men on March 14, calling it Marshmallow Day.

Since then, the National Confectionery Industry Association has treated it as an “answer day” to Valentine’s Day and many confectionary companies began marketing white chocolate, flowers, and other gifts soon thereafter.

In countries that observe White Day, typically Valentine’s Day is celebrated by women presenting chocolate gifts to other men as an expression of love, courtesy, or social obligation. In anime and manga, the true meaning behind the chocolate often becomes hot topic for debate, as characters determine whether a chocolate was “honmei” or “giri”.

The term “honmei choco” refers to higher quality and typically more expensive chocolate which women would gift to a lover or crush. On the other hand, “giri choco” or “obligation chocolate” is given by women to men as a customary gift, typically out of appreciation and politeness. Women may gift “giri choco” to their classmates, friends, and colleagues.

When White Day comes around, men who received either “honmei choco” or “giri choco” on Valentine’s Day are expected to return the favour by giving gifts to the same women. Although chocolate is the traditional gift, modern gifts can include jewelry, bags, lotions, and even lingerie.

Sometimes the term “sanbai gaeshi” or “triple the return” is used as a rule for men on White Day. This rule states that the return gift should be two to three times the worth of the Valentine’s Day gift they received.

However, Japan saw a reduction in sales of obligation chocolates on Valentine’s Day towards the late 2010s. This may be due to the tradition’s decreasing lack of popularity, or even the changing gender roles within Japanese culture.

Still, White Day is a fun celebration and an exciting way to express your love! Many other countries in Asia including China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam celebrate White Day. Will you be celebrating it today?

If you could give a honmei choco for Valentine’s Day or White Day to your favourite character, who would it be? Let us know in the comments below!

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