Asia’s second Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s day in Asia the women give chocolates to men, someone very special, casual friends, or co-workers. However, White Day is the reversed holiday that takes place exactly a month later on March 14, where men who received a “Honmei-choco” (Chocolate of love) or a “Giri-choco” (Courtesy Chocolate) give a gift in return.

Although it is mainly celebrated in Japan it is also celebrated in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam and China. The chocolate is given as a sign of love, courtesy, or a social obligation. It was started by the National Confectionery Industry Association as an “Answer Day” to Valentine’s Day with the expectation that men would pay back the women who gave them chocolate and other gifts on Valentine’s Day with a reply to their affection or to simply respectfully return the thought.

“Sanbai Gaeshi” (Triple the return), is a term that is used to describe the rule for men that the gift they give back should be two or three times the worth of the Valentine’s gift they received. The traditional gifts are usually cookies, jewelry, white chocolate, or marshmallows. The reason the holiday is called White Day is because white is the color of sugar. Originally it was called “Marshmallow Day” when it first began in Fukuoka, Japan in 1978. At that time it was all about marshmallows but over time it developed into a chocolate based holiday.

Usually if the gift given is chocolate, you give different types of chocolate to the different people in your life. Your friends or significant other would get different chocolates than a co-worker or family member to symbolize the separate love and respect you hold for that individual.

Along with White Day, South Korea also has another Valentine’s Day themed holiday for single people called Black Day. On Black Day, the people in Korea celebrate being single by burying their sorrows and loneliness with a noodle dish called “Jajangmyeon.” This holiday is a month after White Day on April 14.

These two holidays were originally a ploy for food companies to get money but eventually they both changed and developed overtime into respected and unique festivities. White Day started out as a day for Marshmallows to be popularized and became a day for people to share and return their feelings to the important and precious people in their lives.