Valentine’s Day originated in the 3rd century with Saint Valentine of Rome and became a love story down the ages. It is predominantly celebrated in Europe and America. Modern day Japan, however has a different tradition, one called White Day. Just as romantic, it is observed slightly differently but could be as exciting a day to observe with the object of your affections. Read on for the history and gift ideas.
History of White Day
Valentine’s Day made its way over to Japan in the 1930’s when a confectionary company tried to attract tourism by promoting its products for Valentine Day presents. The day became more popular in the 1950’s but with one difference to Europe. Rather than both men and women giving each other a present, in Japan it was the woman only who bought a gift.
In 1977, in Japan this all changed. Zengo Ishimura, the owner of a confectionery store called Ishimuramanseido was looking for inspiration for new products. Looking through magazines to see what was popular, he found a letter from a female subscriber. She was writing about Valentine’s Day and why she disliked part of the tradition.
“It’s not really fair that men get chocolate from women on Valentine’s Day but they don’t return the favour. Why don’t they give us something? A handkerchief, candy, even marshmallows…”
This thought stayed with Ishimura and he decided to invent a special day, where men would reciprocate the gifts they received on Valentine’s Day. He asked the women employed at his factory what date they would like this day on. They decided on 14th March, exactly one month after Valentine’s Day.
To help the day achieve popularity and create business for his store, Ishimura invented a sweet especially for this day. The treat was made of marshmallow and had chocolate inside it. Initially popular, other companies started started selling white treats after Valentine’s Day on 14th February. In 1978, the Japanese confectionary realised it was missing out in not marketing this day to half of its population and the day was re-named ‘White Day’. In the 1980’s South Korea and Taiwan adopted White Day and also included white chocolate and other gifts.
Customs of White Day
There are certain rules to this day. In Europe, men and women give a gift to each other and decide the cost of it themselves. On White Day, in Japan the men have to return a gift that is approximately three times the cost of the woman’s. If you don’t, it is looked upon as you saying you are superior. However, if you give a gift of equal value, it is seen as a sign that you are about to end the relationship. Tricky!
White Day gifts
It can be nice to take another countries tradition and observe it yourself. Plus, it means you have two romantic days, spread over two months. If you are looking for the traditional white gift ideas to celebrate this, below are a few ideas.
The traditional gift for White Day are marshmallows, as these are historically white. Are you looking for a gourmet marshmallow? One to toast into a gooey mess? Or maybe to sandwich into a sugary s’more? With such a variety of the humble marshmallow, you really are spoiled for choice.
The obvious present for both Valentine’s day and White day is chocolate. Whether you opt for white chocolate, milk or dark, you have options galore. For a large selection, quick delivery and choice of budget, head to Amazon. Truffles, hot chocolate, bars, buttons, the selection is endless. For a gourmet selection that will even impress a chocolate buff, Fortnum and Masons bring you a delicious selection. Just try to not eat them yourself!
Non chocolate Valentine’s Gifts
Chocolate is not the only gift given now on both Valentine’s day and White day. If you still wish to stick to white gifts, there are some beautiful choices that your loved one will surely appreciate and will not break the bank.
A traditional gift for all occasions, no gift speaks the language of love more than flowers. They cheer us us when we are sad, make the room brighter when we are ill and speak volumes when received from a love interest. Such a versatile present. Luckily, there is also a wide selection of white flowers to choose from. To send a bouquet in the post for extra surprise, choose Bloom and Wild. You can almost smell the scents coming from the website. Who doesn’t want to receive a surprise present at work or home?
To prepare yourself for White Day, read up on the array of white flowers available and dazzle your love with your knowledge on everything white that blooms.
Candles are a universal present and liked by almost everyone. Different colours, sizes, smells and prices, the list is endless and they are sold almost everywhere. There is the high street favourite Yankee Candles for an affordable gift. For a wide selection, head to Amazon. If you want to smell before you buy, your local Marks and Spencer is great for browsing.
Lastly, for those who wish to spend a little more, why not splurge on jewelry that will last forever. If you wish to make a statement, look at Swarovski. Whereas a gift does not guarantee affection, your love interest will definitely be impressed.
Why isn’t White Valentine’s Day celebrated in the western world?
White Day has only been celebrated in Japan since 1978. Give it some time and it may yet make its way around the world. Wouldn’t it be nice to have two days filled with romance? If you received a gift 14th February, then you could return the thought the next month. If you forgot to buy your loved one a card or present (heaven forbid!), then you can use White day as an excuse to be romantic.
Plan your White Valentine’s Day
If you are going to celebrate White day, it would be a good idea to plan ahead.
- Make a list of what you get on Valentine’s Day
- Decide what you will give back to a work colleague. It should be about the same value. You do not want to give them any ideas!
- If your gift is from a romantic interest, the one you return should be more expensive so figure out roughly how much their gift cost
- Your gift should be white. If it is not, then use a white card or ribbon
- Make sure marshmallows are with your gift as this was the sweet especially created for this day.
When we have been in a relationship for a while, we need to make an effort to keep the romance alive and make our partner feel special. After you have read the above post, head here for tips to keep the fire burning. Mostly, Happy White Day everybody!
Don’t forget to promote the day on Instagram with the hashtag #whiteday