White Day is Japan’s response to Valentine’s Day. Remember we wrote an article about Valentines Day and how women are expected to give chocolates to men?
White Day started in Japan in the 1970s and has been around since. It is basically when guys give gifts to those women who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Women give chocolates as an expression of true love, friendship or obligation.
Culture of Reciprocation
Japanese always reciprocate if you give them something or help them in any way. So on White Day, most men go out of their way to express gratitude to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day.
Source of White Day: Marshmallow Day
No other country celebrates White Day. In 1978, a confectionery company in Japan started selling candy, particularly marshmallows, as a return gift for Valentine’s Day. Apparently it was also called Marshmallow Day!
So originally, only marshmallows were given. As Japanese have an image of marshmallows as being white and white stands for purity, March 14 gained the name White Day!
In the early days, marshmallows were popular but today you can buy a variety of chocolates and sweets.
White Day now celebrated in neighboring Korea too
The custom of White Day has now been adopted in Korea but has taken its own unique form, where candy is given more than chocolate.
Of course, over time this custom of “returning” or “返し(kaeshi)” has been criticized by some as it becomes an obligation that turns out to be quite expensive. But despite the criticism, it is still very much a part of Japanese culture.